The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) released their September 2014 report on the current state of obesity in the United States. TheHill. As defined in the report, obesity is “an excessively high amount of body fat or adipose tissue in relation to lean body mass.” StateofObesity. Although obesity rates are plateauing, the rates remain high, leading to increased health problems for millions of Americans. StateofObesity. Adult obesity rates are now above 35 percent in two states, at or above 30 percent in 20 states, above 25 percent in 42 states, and above 20 percent in every state. StateofObesity. Rates of severe obesity apply to children as well, as more than one-in-ten children become obese between the ages of two and five. StateofObesity. This report projects that the United States’ general obesity rate will rise to 44 percent by 2030. NBC.
As recently as 1980, no state had obesity rates above 15 percent; in 1991, no state had obesity rates above 20 percent; in 2000, no state had obesity rates above 25 percent; and, in 2007, Mississippi was the only state above 30 percent. StateofObesity. As of 2011, more than 34.9 percent of adults were obese, and more than 68.5% of adults were overweight or obese as of 2011 to 2012. StateofObesity. Between 2011 and 2012, around 16.9 percent of children (ages two to nineteen) were obese, and 31.8 percent were overweight or obese. StateofObesity.
There are many preventable causes of obesity such as physical inactivity and limited or no access to healthy food. Eighty percent of adults in the United States do not meet the aerobic and muscle strengthening standards for physical activity. StateofObesity. In cases of child inactivity, all fifty states have adopted physical education standards that schools must follow; however, the scope of these requirements and the degree to which they are enforced and funded fluctuates. StateofObesity. Additionally, the types of foods available make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Besides general limited access to healthy foods, low-income families are unable to afford such products as they are generally higher priced than lower quality foods. Further, those who live in rural areas tend not to have access to a grocery store closer than ten miles away. StateofObesity.
Moreover, insurance coverage does not cover community health workers and obesity counselors. Medicare does not include medicine for obesity in its Part D drug benefit, nor does it give beneficiaries access to many lifestyle programs, which makes it even more difficult for those in need to attain the proper help in preventing serious health illnesses due to obesity. In turn, these chronic diseases are consuming a shocking amount of time and money throughout our healthcare system. StateofObesity.
It is highly important and beneficial to address these causes of obesity to prevent the serious health risks obesity poses. Overweightness and obesity have been shown to lead to the following health conditions: (1) type two diabetes; (2) heart disease; (3) hypertension; (4) risks before, during, and after childbirth; (5) cancer; (6) kidney disease; (7) arthritis; (8) dementia; (9) Alzheimer’s; and (10) mental health conditions. In the past twenty years, diabetes rates have almost doubled, and over eighty percent of diabetes patients are overweight or obese. Additionally, individuals who are overweight are more prone to developing high blood pressure, high blood fats levels, and high cholesterol, leading to heart disease and stroke. StateofObesity. According to the National Cancer Institute, around 84,000 cancer diagnoses per year are related to obesity. It has also been shown that extra fat affects how cancer treatments process. Wptv
What can America do to fix this? Our nation has been recently progressing by increasingly producing healthier foods. Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper proposed that they would aim to reduce the calories Americans obtain from beverages by twenty percent over the next ten years by marketing smaller sized drinks. WashingtonPost. The United States Department of Agriculture also updated the nutrition standards for school meals, snacks, and drinks for the first time in years. StateofObesity. In order to help the low-income community, food stamps have started including healthier foods as required by Obama’s enactment of the Farm Bill. StateofObesity.
To further combat obesity, agencies should implement policies where they can, for example, with child inactivity. Children are recommended to get sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, which is not being considered in many school districts. Additionally, insurance plans should consider including obesity combatting treatment within their plans so that more individuals have a higher chance in solving this health issue.