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How Communities Can Help Fight Widening Waistlines

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, September 03, 2009 10:50 AM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Obesity, Junk Food, Public Health, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Chronic Disease, Childhood Obesity

BMI chart helps parents measure whether their child is overweight or obese.

Taxing Sweet Drinks To Fight Obesity


IMAGE SOURCE: Calculate your child's BMI, CDC


It worked with tobacco.

When taxes were increased on cigarettes it cut down on tobacco use. So why not on sugary drinks that contribute to the epidemic of childhood obesity?

That is just one suggestion among a strongly worded report on how communities can be called on to fight obesity.

While individual personal choice still plays a role, an independent organization that advises government on science, includes suggestions on how communities can be proactive in encouraging people to stay active.

The Widening Problem

Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, and the childhood obesity rate has tripled over the last 30 years to now nearly 18 percent of the young.

The medical community predicts rising rates of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, as well as the associated costs, are more than we can afford.

Presently, Colorado is the only state that has an obesity rate under 20 percent, according to the CDC. Doctors worry the present generation may not live as long as their parents.

Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas chaired the report. He says, “Single actions can make a difference, and one at a time can start you in the right direction.”

How Can Communities help?

  • The report suggests limiting television and video games in after-school programs, reports Reuters
  • Restaurants should list their calories of items
  • More walking paths, school playgrounds, and athletic should be opened to communities
  • Experts on the panel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation suggest a 10 percent increase on the price of a sugary drink could reduce consumption by eight to 10 percent
  • Bus routes can be changed so people can walk to grocery stores
  • Help communities attract supermarkets to underserved neighborhood by offering grants to help them stay stocked with fresh foods instead of sodas and snacks
  • Crime ridden neighborhoods should be better policed so kids can get outdoors and take their bike or walk to school safely
  • Use zoning laws to restrict fast-food restaurants and junk food carts and advertising near schools and playgrounds
  • Encourage breastfeeding which prevent obesity in childhood later in life

The Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention Actions for Local Governments was convened to identify what actions local government can take to fight childhood obesity. Their report is available for purchase online.

Are You Overweight?

Find out by putting the numbers into BMI, body mass index formula.

An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.

An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

The BMI for children also takes into consideration their age, sex and amount of body fat. #

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