With the amount of political, media and research attention it has been given in the past 5 years, it is no surprise that reducing rates of obesity is on the list of CDC Winnable Battles. Endless reports indicate that our nation has deeply troubling problems with our relationship to food, our lifestyle choices and the underlying causes and disparities that contribute to this epidemic of obesity.
Due to the widespread and growing causes and consequences related to this issue, I truly believe that this will be the most difficult Public Health battle to overcome. But as health care costs mount and conditions/diseases related to overweight are seen in higher incidence -- not only across the country, but across the world – the CDC is leading the troops forward! (Or at least encouraging us to get out of our chairs ...)
So -- what is such a big deal about our country’s weight statistics anyway?
The bottom line is that obesity shortens and lowers the quality of our lives. It costs individuals, health care facilities and government programs an obscene amount of money. In 2008 dollars, these costs totaled about $147 billion in the United States.
It impacts whole communities negatively. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, due to rising obesity, “the U.S. could be facing its first sustained drop in life expectancy in the modern era.” (NEJM, 2005)
As in many cases, pictures speak louder than words, and the illustrations depicting the percentage of people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 (considered morbidly obese) from 1985 to 2010 truly speaks for itself. Visit the link to see a visual representation of our country’s collective weight gain: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html
Keep in mind that while BMI is not necessarily the best measurement of a person’s health as it only accounts for height, weight and age of a person, the rates of people diagnosed with diabetes and the incidence of heart disease have also increased in a correlated manner.