Control of United States Obesity Epidemic Possible

Implementation of national-level policies recommended to control and reverse the epidemic

THURSDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity rates in the United States are continuing to rise, but control and reversal of the epidemic is possible by strategic implementation of national-level policies, according to a June report published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Trust for America's Health.

Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D., from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, D.C., and colleagues analyzed trends of U.S obesity rates, and policies for controlling them. The report provides strategies to raise awareness, drive action, identify solutions, and reverse the epidemic.

The authors report that more than two thirds of adults, and nearly one third of children in the United States are obese or overweight. From 2008 to 2010, adult and child obesity rates rose; there was no decrease in obesity in any state. Greater low-cost, high-calorie food and beverage intake, decreased physical activity, advertisements, comorbidities including diabetes, and increasing nutritious-food costs have contributed to the epidemic. The RWJF identified six policies to reverse the epidemic. All foods and beverages available in schools should meet or exceed the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. High-quality, affordable foods should be made increasingly available through new or improved stores. Physical activity should be increased through schools and out-of-school programs, building communities with a scope of physical activity. Incentives should be given on purchase and promotion of healthy food, and disincentives for not doing so. Unhealthy food marketing, which often targets youth, should be reduced through regulations and policies. Obesity-awareness programs should be supported along with strategic implementation of all the new policies.

"Creating healthy policies can help people engage in the healthy behaviors we need to see to reverse the nation's obesity epidemic," the authors write.

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