Wednesday, September 03 2008 @ 07:33 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
More than 25 percent of adults are obese in 28 states, which is an increase from 19 states last year. More than 20 percent of adults are obese in every state except Colorado. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent. In 1980, the national average of obese adults was 15 percent. Now, an estimated two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and an estimated 23 million children are either overweight or obese (the report does not include new state-level data for children this year).
"America's future depends on the health of our country. The obesity epidemic is lowering our productivity and dramatically increasing our health care costs. Our analysis shows that we're not treating the obesity epidemic with the urgency it deserves," said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH. "Even though communities have started taking action, considering the scope of the problem, the country's response has been severely limited. For significant change to happen, combating obesity must become a national priority."
The report also provides an annual review of state and federal policies aimed at reducing or preventing obesity in children and adults. It shows that many policies are missing critical components or require a more comprehensive approach to be truly effective. Among the examples highlighted:
-- While the Dietary Guidelines for Americans were updated in 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) school meal program has yet to adopt the recommendations.
-- Ten states do not include specific coverage for nutrition assessment and counseling for obese or overweight children in their Medicaid programs (Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefits).
-- Twenty states explicitly do not cover nutritional assessment and consultation for obese adults under Medicaid.
-- Only Georgia and Vermont have specific guidelines for treating obese adults in their Medicaid programs. In Nebraska and South Carolina, the Medicaid programs specifically state that obesity is not an illness and is therefore not covered.
-- Forty-five states allow using obesity or health status as a risk factor to deny coverage or raise premiums. Only five states do not allow using obesity or health status to deny coverage or raise premiums.
The F as in Fat report concludes with a recommendation that the country set a national goal of reversing the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. To help achieve that goal, the report's top recommendation calls on the federal government to convene partners from state and local governments, businesses, communities, and schools to create and implement a realistic, comprehensive National Strategy to Combat Obesity. Some key policy recommendations include:
-- Investing in effective community-based disease-prevention programs that promote increased physical activity and good nutrition;
-- Increasing the amount and quality of physical education and activity in schools and childcare programs;
-- Increasing access to safe, accessible places for physical activity in communities. Examples include creating and maintaining parks, sidewalks and bike lanes and providing incentives for smart growth designs that make communities more livable and walkable;