This blog is a forum developed to facilitate discussion on key topics related to obesity and obesity-related diseases. And there are many topics to discuss!
Obesity continues to plague our nation and increasingly is the gateway to chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. Patients, health care providers, employers, labor, government and insurance providers will all continue to be affected by the tremendous burden of this epidemic. As the STOP Obesity Alliance and its Steering Committee members continue our collaboration on efforts to take on this health crisis, we will take advantage of this forum to have an open dialogue with all of you.
Key contributors to Weighing In are STOP Obesity Alliance Steering Committee members, Christine Ferguson, the STOP Obesity Alliance Director and Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the Health and Wellness Chairperson of the Alliance.
The STOP Obesity Alliance Health & Wellness Chairperson, 17th U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard H. Carmona, facilitated a panel discussion for the launch of the Obesity GPS - featuring the Alliance's Director, Christine Ferguson, the American Medical Group Association's Julie Sanderson-Austin, and the American Heart Association's Dr. John Ring.
By Casey Langwith and Anna Muldoon, Members of The George Washington University’s Research Team for the STOP Obesity Alliance
When reading about obesity in the news, we often hear a lot about “all it takes” to beat obesity—and by that, the author usually just means diet and exercise. But obesity is not a single cause condition, and addressing obesity requires action on many fronts to ensure a comprehensive solution to a complex social problem.
That’s why we were encouraged to read Representative Ron Kind’s (D-WI) new obesity legislation, the Healthy Communities through Helping to Offer Incentives and Choices to Everyone in Society Act (Healthy CHOICES Act). The bill clearly takes this complexity into account, by including provisions that tackle both childhood and adult obesity. The proposed legislation uses many methods to combat obesity in home and educational settings and encourages healthy eating and exercise throughout the life span.
Several studies have illustrated the link between obesity and poor socio-economic status. Rep. Kind’s proposed expansion of coverage under Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) for obesity treatment and nutritional counseling are critical to providing care to low-income populations struggling with obesity and related diseases. In addition, the inclusion of programs to promote healthy eating and physical activity in disadvantaged neighborhoods directly attacks the problem of food deserts, unhealthy school lunches and a lack of safe spaces for exercise.
This legislation also addresses the built environment as a tool to combat obesity and focuses on creating spaces and programs to encourage positive community changes. The bill would promote community gardens, provide fresh vegetables to urban residents and encourage activities outside the home. By working to create safe routes for students to walk to school, the bill encourages physical activity throughout the daily routine. Additionally, joint use agreements between schools and communities would provide safe spaces for child and adult evening activities, thereby promoting family physical activity as well as increasing the efficiency of building use.
As a whole, the Healthy CHOICES Act holds the potential to effectively address many of the community and social factors that contribute to obesity in children and adults. Many of the proposals would improve quality of life and encourage positive nutritional changes across the population, regardless of weight. We commend Rep. Kind for putting forward this proposal to address obesity across generations.