School’s out, but America gets an F

Maria Hoover, SBJ Features EditorWeight change for the week: +2.2 pounds; back to starting weight

No high marks for the U.S. – or Missouri, for that matter – in the fight against obesity.Despite ongoing discussions about obesity and continuing research into the health issue, adult obesity rates got worse in 23 states and didn’t decrease in any state in the past year.

That’s the sobering news from “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2009.” The report, released earlier this month by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also found that the percentage of overweight children is at or above 30 percent in 30 states.

Missouri has the 13th highest rate of adult obesity at 28.1 percent, and the 23rd highest rate of overweight youth between the ages of 10 and 17. It could be worse, though. According to the report, Mississippi topped both the youth and adult obesity categories in the study, with 44.4 percent and 32.5 percent, respectively.

The study noted that the problem may get worse due to the economic crisis because food – and particularly nutritious food – is expected to get more expensive. Another strike for Missouri: While our state follows U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition standards for school lunches, breakfasts and snacks, 19 states have implemented stricter standards in place to fight obesity.

Among the report’s recommendations for fighting obesity within health care reform:

  • ensuring every adult and child has access to insurance coverage for preventive medical services, including nutrition and obesity counseling and screenings for related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes; and
  • increasing the number of programs available in communities, schools and child-care sites that aid in making nutritious foods more affordable and accessible and provide safe places for exercise.

The report also calls for a national strategy to fight obesity. Among the objectives for such a strategy could include defining roles and responsibilities for all levels of government and fostering collaboration among businesses, communities and families.
What do you think needs to happen in order for America to cut down on obesity? Tell us in the “Responses” section below – but be sure to register so everyone can see what you have to share.

Weekly update

Holding steady, which is, I suppose, better than gaining. No small feat either, considering that two family reunions with way too much food and a large church dinner have taken place since my last update.

I’ve been able to work in several walks of at least an hour. Even though those have not brought a drop in the number on the scale, I feel good that my muscles – including my heart – are getting the benefits of the exercise.

On the down side, I’m still part of the obesity problem that’s plaguing our nation. My kids, however, are not, and for that I’m thankful. Up next: A few of us here at Springfield Business Journal are embarking next week on a weight loss challenge. Competition’s always a good motivator!

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