I can’t say this comes as any great surprise, but there are significant implications of this announcement. From insurance companies to health care providers, this will cause some upheaval. Other terms have been used to describe the state of obesity in this country. Things like “crisis” and “epidemic” and yet still very little is being done to address it. If you looked back 100 years ago, people were dying of communicable diseases. That’s not the case anymore.
Unfortunately, today the leading causes of death in America are in many cases preventable. Our culture is so counterproductive to health, it’s disheartening. The strain that obesity (and related illness as a result of obesity) has put on our health care system is significant. We need large organizations like the American Medical Association to make bold statements like this to take a strong stance on the this issue. I realize there will be fall-out, but something has to be done. I believe the ultimate answer lies in good public policy. Putting rules and regulations in place to protect citizens works. For example, anti-smoking policies and seat-belt usage regulations have positive outcomes. Until our country puts policies in place that keep health and well-being as the highest priorities, we will continue to have an obesity epidemic.
So, what am I referring to when I say we need “policies”? Check out my previous post on Public Policy 101 – The Summit for a Healthier America. Here’s my line of thought, just to name a few:
- Regulation on what type of materials can be considered “food”
- Restriction on targeted marketing of “foods” directly to children
- Social programs that make healthy food accessible to those who are in the greatest need
- Mandate physical activity and nutrition education in public schools
- Provide healthy foods in public schools
- Provide government subsidies to small, family farms that provide healthy produce (instead of big agriculture companies and factory farms)
- Public health program funding of programs geared towards preventative health education, programs, and services