Recent reports indicate that the efforts to increase awareness of childhood obesity and the implementation of health and fitness programs in cities across the nation have been yielding results. Dr. Michael Omidi discusses the foundations that are responsible for these policies and what programs have been successful in this effort.
There is some great news on the United States childhood obesity front: the local incentives and health programs implemented in more than 1,700 cities seem to be working, according to recent progress reports.
The Partnership for a Healthier America has been working with both private and public organizations to donate funds and begin programs for the purpose of encouraging healthy lifestyles. This includes altering the menus and ingredient lists in popular restaurants, providing access to fresh produce for underserved communities and offering exercise programs for school aged kids.
It has been estimated that roughly half of all Americans will be overweight or obese by the year 2030 if the problem remains unaddressed.
The various initiatives that have been put forth for the fight against obesity have achieved moderate success, according to representatives from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the health of all Americans. Nevertheless, in order to make a significant dent in the obesity rate as well as the number of preventable weight-related illnesses, the efforts need to be much more widespread than they currently are.
“All across our nation—from California to New York City—we’re seeing pockets of progress toward reversing the childhood obesity epidemic,” said Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD. “But we aren’t nearly where we need to be. For progress to reach every corner of our country, we must redouble our efforts: parents, schools, nonprofit organizations, government at all levels, and the private sector. Everyone has a role to play in improving the health of our nation’s children.”
Roughly 17 percent of American children are affected by obesity in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a grave concern because children who are overweight or obese will likely remain so into adulthood, putting them at grave risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
The Partnership for a Healthier America has worked to build and renovate 141 grocery stores in what are known as “food deserts;” underserved urban areas without easy access to fresh food outlets. Because processed foods can be cheaper than their whole food alternatives, people in low income neighborhoods tend to consume them in larger amounts. It is the goal of such organizations as The Partnership for a Healthier America to make healthier food choices cost-effective for everyone regardless of their community. Not only will these efforts ultimately save taxpayers money on healthcare in the long run, they will help to produce a generation of fit and happy children, which is the most important goal of all.
 Heavey, Susan: U.S. Childhood Obesity Fight Sees Some Success: Group Reuters 3/7/2013 http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/07/us-usa-obesity-idUSBRE9261FH20130307