By Rachel Roessler-Mumma
Kings Bay Fitness Coordinator
Last week, the crisis of obesity in America became a hot topic in the news when new research out of the Institute of Medicine showed that by 2030, 42 percent of Americans will be obese.
This statistic is unsettling as the negative impact of obesity on individuals and on society as a whole is significant. The health of our nation has already taken a hit with the rapid rise in obesity both among adults, currently 35.7, percent, and children, 17 percent, who are suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
In addition to causing a lower quality of life, these obesity-related illnesses come with a high price tag for individuals as well as for employers, due to the rising cost of healthcare and reduced productivity and increased absenteeism in the workforce.
We have reached a pivotal point where we can no longer ignore this growing problem.
In an effort to spur immediate action from individuals, corporations and the government, the IOM has issued a number of recommendations that should take immediate effect if we are to stop this problem from worsening.
The rise in obesity among American children is of highest concern. Therefore, the IOM strongly recommends that there be at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity in schools.
They also suggest industry-wide guidelines on what food and drinks can be marketed to children and insist that healthier food choices be provided for kids in restaurants and at school.
The IOM says we live in an “obesity promoting environment” and that the responsibility to make changes in our lifestyles no longer falls on just the individual. Society as a whole must act to reverse current trends. Having public and workplace policies that encourage physical activity, healthier food options available at public events and public leaders who promote wellness initiatives in their local communities are all ways society can step-up in the battle against obesity.
Americans’ bad habits are catching up to them, and unless we now make considerable changes in the way we eat and how we spend our time, we will be faced with a severe health crisis in the near future.
I believe school administrators, community leaders, employers, businesses and individuals alike can take action to shift the direction we are headed and help create a culture that prides itself on being healthy and fit. Through education, healthy lifestyle initiatives, government controls and community programs, we can make our nation’s health a priority and create an environment that supports healthy and active lifestyles.
Reference: Obesity epidemic stems from environment, panel says. NBC Nightly News. May 2012.