Public health officials are worried about America’s expanding weight problem. The ranks of the obese are expected to swell in coming years from 36 percent today to 42 percent by 2030 and it’s going to get very expensive.
A new report says over the next couple of decades treating chronic disease linked to obesity, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, is likely to top $550 billion.
This week, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is hosting the Weight of the Nation conference in Washington DC, where more than 1,200 public health officials hope to develop a national strategic blueprint for battling the bulge.
Although obesity rates have slowed in recent years, it’s far from leveling off. Duke University Health Economist Eric Finkelstein said it was unclear whether obesity rates had decelerated thanks to public policy initiatives aimed at preventing childhood obesity, greater societal awareness of obesity's health risks, or because Americans have hit the tipping point of fatness a population can sustain.
In January, two CDC studies suggested that obesity rates were at 17 percent for children and hovering around 35 percent for adults based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Public health experts have mainly concluded the best way to attack the obesity crisis is to prevent people from becoming obese in the first place. They place a particular emphasis on children who are being raised as "The Snack Generation". Many health experts believe kids’ snacking habits and binge eating are fueling the U.S. obesity crisis.
According to the landmark Bogalusa Heart Study, 77 percent of obese children become obese adults, while only 7 percent of non-obese children do.
Dr. Paul Branscum, assistant professor of health and exercise science at the University of Oklahoma, and Dr. Manoj Sharma, a University of Cincinnati professor of health promotion and education wanted to know what factors affect a child’s decision to reach for a bag of chips or some cookies rather than a piece of fruit. To find out, they enlisted 167 Midwestern fourth and fifth graders for a cross-section observational study.