Rising obesity rates call for tougher policy action

Friday, September 30, 2005

WASHINGTON - Current government policies and actions appear ineffective at reversing the trend of increasing obesity rates across America. According to a new report by Trust for America's Health, obesity rates stayed the same in Oregon but increased in every other state, with Mississippi ranked as the heaviest and Colorado the least heavy.
Approximately 119 million Americans are either overweight or obese, putting them at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.
"We have a crisis of poor nutrition and physical inactivity in the United States and it's time we dealt with it," said Dr. Shelley A. Hearne, executive director of TFAH.
While a majority of governors throughout the country have initiated obesity programs for state employees, initiatives aimed at the general public are often limited to public information campaigns.
"There is much more that can be done to help people make healthy choices about nutrition and exercise," said Parris N. Glendenning, former two-term governor of Maryland.
TFAH has identified several key policy action items for policymakers, including bolstering preventive care; leveraging buying clout to emphasize nutrition; improving school nutrition and physical education; and designing or updating communities with space for physical activity, such as recreational space, and improved sidewalks and public transportation.