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F as in Fat
The fourth annual F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2007 report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) came out today. The stats are not good. No states decreased in obesity rates from last year, and there was a rise in obesity rates in 31 states. The South is especially looking bad. The reports shows that 8 of the 10 states with highest overweight stats for children as well as 10 of the 15 states with the highest rates of adult obesity are located in the South.
Here are some interesting observations from this report:
- 85% of Americans believe that obesity is an epidemic.
- Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH, says, “Poor nutrition and physical inactivity are robbing America of our healthy and productivity.”
- 21% of American adults report they do not engage in any physical activity. Mississippi, the state with the highest rate of obesity, also has the highest rate of inactivity.
- Every state has school PE requirements, but many are limited in scope for not enforced.
- More than 2/3 of Americans believe children do not participate in adequate amounts of physical activity during the school day or outside of school. More than 70% of Americans rated proposals to increase PE in schools as very useful.
- 60% of Americans favor a proposal to measure students’ Body Mass Index (BMI) annually and confidentially provide this information to parents.
- 81% of Americans believe that the government should have a role in addressing the obesity crisis.
Adults are getting heavier in this country. It is an epidemic and each year the statistics keep getting worse. But the saddest news is that now we are seeing that our children are also greatly affected by our poor habits and examples. They are becoming overweight and obese at alarming rates—childhood obesity has tripled in the past 20 years. People seem to be getting the message that we are getting fatter, but yet the stats show that we continue to get fatter. We need public health policies to help us, especially when it comes to setting policies in our schools around nutrition and physical activity. We need employers to offer incentives to get people to lose weight, quit smoking, and adopt healthier lifestyles. And most of all, we need to be an example to our children. If you won’t do it for yourself, please do it for your children. The generation of children we are raising has a shorter life expectancy than we do because of health consequences associated with obesity. Help your children (and grandchildren). Show them what it means to eat smaller portions and to choose lower calorie foods (and like them!). Show them how enjoyable it can be to move your body. Get them involved in sports and go out there and do it with them. With some effort and good role modeling we may be able to halt the childhood obesity epidemic and maybe even reverse it!
Photo courtesy of Trust for America's Health (TFAH)