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The role of government in obesity prevention

October 28th, 2014 · No Comments

Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2014 19:23:55 +0000
From: lexiewolf
Subject: The_role_of_government_in_obesity_prevention?=

Overweight and obesity results from our genetics combined with the daily choices we make about what to eat and how much to move our bodies. However, these choices are heavily influenced by our environments – the places we live, work, study and play.

It is not easy to make healthy eating choices in a world where junk food is everywhere and cheap. And many of us don’t walk or move much in the course of our regular daily life and thus we have to go out of our way to get any exercise at all. Unhealthy tends to be the default setting of our society.

There are actions that local governments can take to make healthy choices easier in communities. Most of these actions are not easy or simple. They require resources, commitment, coordination and a willingness to think long-term.

If you are wondering whether government should play a role in the biggest public health problem of our time, consider some other the successful governmental public health campaigns of recent decades: Local government policy and public education has been instrumental in curbing smoking (especially in teenagers), encouraging seat belt use, and reducing drunk driving. These are extremely serious – but ultimately much less complex –problems than obesity.

For example, banning smoking in schools was done district by district in North Carolina at first – a local government decision, and a relatively cut and dry issue. Now look at the issue of junk food in schools. It is very complicated, due to the need to navigate USDA subsidies and policy, deal with the financial realities facing our school districts, interpret what’s considered unhealthy, and work with parents who are highly emotional on both sides of the issue.

An “obesity director†could help to navigate the numerous, complicated and often controversial changes that could help make healthy choices easier in our community. Each strategy can look like a drop in the bucket. A “big picture†perspective, along with an understanding of what approaches have been shown to be most effective, is necessary. A person dedicated to coordinating Chatham’s obesity prevention efforts could also help this county to leverage the resources available to local governments to fight obesity. This is a 190 billion dollar health problem and there are resources and funding out there to help communities to help address it – such as state and federal funds for sidewalks, bike lanes, parks and other infrastructure that supports active living. But without commitment and courage on the part of our local government officials – and citizen support- many of these resources will remain out of our reach.

Tags: 27312 · Health · Pittsboro · Siler City

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