As of 2011, “two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight” (page 3). This health epidemic is the root cause of escalating diseases and skyrocketing costs. This report, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the Trust for America’s Health (healthyamericans.org), examines the link between obesity, policies and trends. This report can help planners and local governments determine where they rank and what actions to take in fighting this preventable epidemic.
The report is a part of an ongoing call for a national strategy that began in 2006. Each year the report has been published, the “grade” has been an “F.” Though the issue of obesity has since garnered much media hype, little is actually being accomplished. If anything, it is getting worse. The report identifies six areas of policy recommendations for reversing the obesity trends in children, the emphasis of the Trust for America’s Health effort. Those recommendations range from increasing the daily physical activity of our youth to pricing strategies, both incentives and disincentives, to change food choices towards healthier options.
Other report highlights include:
- Adult obesity rates actually increased in 16 states between July 2010 and July 2011 (page 11).
- Obesity is impacting America’s already weak economy, costing $150 billion in related health care costs and an addition $73 billion in lost productivity.
- The report includes exceptional state-by-state comparisons both on obesity and health indicators. Unfortunately, eight states had obesity rates above 30 percent - double that of just two years previously (page 14).
- Nine of the top ten most obese states are located in the South, indicating a geographical values and lifestyle split nationwide.
Obesity and healthcare costs are intrinsically linked. Beyond the youth obesity issue, as the nation grows older, it is also growing fatter. Knowing the percentages of obesity in your locality, as well as which policy and action steps can be implemented, are crucial keys to reducing aging/obesity costs.
How to Use
This is one of the more comprehensive reports on obesity in America. Local governments and planners should use this in evaluating how obesity impacts services such as medical response, disabilities, and socio-economic status (page 20) in building an age-friendly environment. It is also worthwhile to consider cultural values related to health that may actually be a hindrance to livability within a community.