Monday, February 4, 2008

Curbing the Obesity Epidemic - Is it the Government's Responsibility?

Should the government spend money addressing the obesity epidemic?

Despite widespread public knowledge regarding the obesity epidemic in the U.S., the perception remains that incentives toward weight loss are necessary. Multiple suggestions are currently proposed as a means to eliminate this widespread problem.

The health consequences and economic impact associated with obesity are far reaching. According to recent studies there are untapped markets that can be used to promote healthier lifestyles. Much effort is being spent to provide solutions - but is this really the responsibility of government and public agencies? It seems we have lost control.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Health People 2010 has a goal to see a 15% reduction in the incidence of obesity. The impetus would engage legislators, health care providers, citizens and public health advocates in the struggle. This is indeed a sad statement regarding our lack individual initiative toward better health.

Health care providers will be asked to counsel patients, set guidelines and monitor these outcomes. Emphasis will turn to exercise, personal attainment of weight loss goals and dietary counseling, something previously emphasized by special interest groups. I do agree that healthcare providers should become very involved. Weight loss centers are costly and their success rates are underwhelming.

Further objectives include incentive funding for public education, healthier school meals, nutritious food in hospital cafeterias, and campaigns to target news and media groups who propagate unhealthy behavior through misleading advertising. It’s suggested that fast food chains stop including toys with meals purchases. Closer scrutiny of public vending machines is proposed.

There is a push toward encouraging the public to purchase locally grown, organic foods to eliminate the adverse effects of pesticides and help eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from long distance food transporation.

Some states are actually considering class act lawsuits against fast food chains; following in the footsteps of the tobacco industry.

There is increased awareness that Bariatric Surgery for obesity is underutilized. Various types of weight loss surgeries are available for individuals who meet the criteria, yet in 2002 only 6% of weight loss surgery was performed on those eligible. There are risks associated with Bariatric surgery but the health benefits have thus far outweighed the risks. Weight loss of 70% is seen, with a 77% decrease in the incidence of diabetes following weight loss surgical procedures.

I’m not sure I want to see Federal monies spent on a problem that can be corrected through individual action, nor do I wish to see our courts tied up with lawsuits against fast food chains.

We all have the tools and information needed to make healthy choices. As parents, how difficult is it to teach healthy lifestyles to our children?

Reduce your caloric intake, exercise, get a good nights sleep and make the choice to change your patterns of behavior. Adults should receive 45% to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20% to 35% from fat, and 10% to 35% from protein.

Should this really be public issue?
Do you want to see govenment spending directed at the obesity epidemic?
Post your stories and thoughts, please!