What will it take to reverse the current obesity epidemic in the USA?

Summary

Two-thirds of adults and a third of children in the USA are overweight or obese, government statistics show. Three national experts weighed in on what it will take to solve the obesity problem.

07Nov.
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Communities must experiment, urge healthy choices

Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“I am very confident we can reverse the obesity epidemic. I don’t think we are going to treat our way out of the epidemic with pills or surgery.”

We will solve this by empowering communities and individuals to make the healthier choices the easier choices.

“It starts with a healthy pregnancy, breast-feeding, early childhood healthy feeding. We are increasingly recognizing that early childhood experiences are very important for health throughout life.”

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“We are seeing signs of hope. We are seeing communities throughout the U.S. that are seeing childhood obesity not only stabilize but decline. We are not out of the woods, but there is real progress.”

“We can reverse the epidemic by making healthier choices easier at every stage of life and every place.”

Let’s work on school foods, better restaurant options

Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest

The solutions to addressing obesity will have to be as multifaceted as is the problem itself. Some ways to reverse the epidemic:

“Improve school foods. This school year, schools are working hard to implement new healthier school lunch standards. The new standards mean that school lunches should have twice the fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less salt and unhealthy saturated and trans fats, and more appropriate calorie levels. But these are tough changes — for schools and kids. We need a major nationwide effort to support school food service to serve healthier foods and encourage children to eat them. Another important solution to addressing obesity is to get sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks out of vending machines, school stores and other school venues.”

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“Restaurants also could help by normal-sizing portions of foods and drinks, promoting and reducing the prices of healthier options to make them more competitive choices. Restaurants should have meals come automatically with healthy sides and low-calorie beverages.”

Problem is one of misperception, not of willpower

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health

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“For the individual, we need to overcome the perception that obesity is just a matter of willpower — blaming the victim doesn’t help. And for real change, individuals need to get past the crash-diet mentality to a lifestyle plan of healthy eating and increased physical activity. People need tools that can assist them in making these changes, including support groups and Web- or cellphone-based tools that allow tracking of diet and exercise to provide feedback.”

Families are crucial — unless the whole family gets involved in a plan to adopt a healthier lifestyle, it will be difficult for the individual to succeed.

“Communities are essential to success. Public education programs are critical. Redesigning the built environment to promote active lifestyles and access to healthy foods needs to be a priority; schools need to develop healthier lunch programs and access to physical education.”

“Businesses that get engaged in providing incentives for a healthy lifestyle are finding that this yields results in productivity and reduced health care costs.”

“National policies need to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles instead of working against them.”

“America, we have a weight problem. But don’t despair, we can beat it. We have faced other challenges as a nation, and we can overcome this one, but we’ll have to do it together.”

Read the original article on USA Today website

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