Obesity is a growing issue affecting millions of Americans. As we try to combat the negative health effects of obesity there is a push for prevention. Politicians, citizens, and researchers are scrambling to find a cause of obesity. The problem is there is no “magic pill” or perfect solution. Causes of obesity are debated and the search is on for something to blame for the drastic changes in American’s weight. A recent focus has been food deserts. This term describes areas where supermarkets, grocery stores, and other healthy food options are not readily available. To see if your community falls under this category go to The Department of Agriculture’s food desert locator tool below.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/fooddesert/

For the first time in more than 15 years, school meal standards have been changed with a focus on improving child nutrition and reducing childhood obesity.  With the potential to impact more than 30 million students daily, these new guidelines will introduce more fruit and vegetables and reduce fat intake on lunch trays.  State policies and local practices can have a positive impact on the devastating rates of obesse and overweight children as students have an opportunity for more healthful eating.

The NY Times reported today that at least seven states have laws on their books prohibiting localities from adopting policies aimed at reducing obesity and improving public health. The most recent example is Ohio, where the budget bill just signed by Governor John Kasich limits local government control over restaurants.

Adult and childhood obesity remain a major issue for states and the nation. States have implemented various policies and programs to reduce the number of adults and children who are either overweight or obese. The economic benefit of having a healthier population is a significant reason why states continue to push for healthy programs.

Obesity rates are climbing fast. In fact, just one-third of American adults have a normal weight, and an equal proportion is obese. Overall, men are more likely to be obese. Obesity is linked to chronic disease and is an economic drain on the nation.

Childhood obesity continues to be a problem for the nation's children. Hispanic boys and African-American girls are disproportionately affected. States are trying a variety of programs to reduce the growth of childhood obesity. 

 

In 2006, lots of kids in West Virginia started dancing to a video game—not in an arcade—but in a school.  The game—called Dance Dance Revolution—incorporates dance moves to the latest pop songs, lighting up the steps on a special floor mat for players to follow.  Those kids got moving when schools saw the success in a 2004 effort launched by the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency. It was an effort to address the problem of childhood obesity and help the children of the agency’s members lose weight.

America’s first lady, Michelle Obama, has an ambitious goal—to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Her initiative, “Let’s Move!,” builds on promising approaches to provide states, schools, families and communities proven tools to help kids be more active, eat better and get healthy.

The interest in taxing soda on a state level has rebounded in recent months. While only 14 states levy a sales tax on food for home consumption, 39 states and Washington, D.C., impose a sales tax on at least some soda purchases. In some of these states, the tax is simply part of the sales tax that applies to food; in others, it is a separate or higher tax.

The statistics are startling. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of obese high school students has nearly tripled in the past three years. Thirty-two percent of children diagnosed with diabetes in one study had type 2 diabetes—the type normally  associated with obese adults. Obesity among children, once a rarity, has become an epidemic in this country. Fortunately, schools across the country are responding to this health crisis. Many innovative programs are taking place at the local or school district level, but all too often those programs operate in a vacuum and are not publicized, even in neighboring counties.

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