Obesity Fight Must Shift From Personal Blame, IOM Urges

Obesity Fight Must Shift From Personal Blame, IOM Urges   

Picture of an Obese Teenager (146kg/322lb) wit...

Picture of an Obese Teenager (146kg/322lb) with Central Obesity, side view.Self Made Picture of an Obese Teenager (Myself) (146kg/322lb) with Central Obesity, Front View. Feel Free to use. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Report targets “obesogenic” environment, not individuals
Makes schools the center of the obesity fight
Consider taxing sugary drinks, changing farm policy
By Sharon Begley
New York, May 8 (Reuters) – America‘s obesity epidemic is so  deeply rooted that it will take dramatic and systemic measures –  from overhauling farm policies and zoning laws to, possibly,  introducing a soda tax – to fix it, the influential Institute of  Medicine said on Tuesday.
In an ambitious 478-page report, the IOM refutes the idea  that obesity is largely the result of a lack of willpower on the  part of individuals. Instead, it embraces policy proposals that  have met with stiff resistance from the food industry and  lawmakers, arguing that multiple strategies will be needed to  make the U.S. environment less “obesogenic.”
The IOM, part of the National Academies, offers advice to  the government and others on health issues. Its report was  released at the Weight of the Nation conference, a three-day  meeting hosted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and  Prevention. Cable channel HBO will air a documentary of the same  name next week.
“People have heard the advice to eat less and move more for  years, and during that time a large number of Americans have  become obese,” committee member Shiriki Kumanyika of the  University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine told Reuters.     “That advice will never be out of date. But when you see the  increase in obesity you ask, what changed? And the answer is,  the environment. The average person cannot maintain a healthy  weight in this obesity-promoting environment.”
A study funded by the CDC and released on Monday projected  that by 2030, 42 percent of American adults will be obese,  compared to 34 percent today and 11 percent will be severely  obese, compared to 6 percent today.
Another one-third of American adults are overweight today,  and one-third of children aged 2 to 19 are overweight or obese.  Obesity is defined as having a body mass index – a measure of  height to weight – of 30 or greater. Overweight means a BMI of  25 to 29.9.
Officials at the IOM and CDC are trying to address the  societal factors that led the percentage of obese adults to more  than double since 1980, when it was 15 percent. Among children,  it has soared from 5 to 17 percent in the past 30 years. One  reason: in 1977, children 2 to 18 consumed an average of 1,842  calories per day. By 2006, that had climbed to 2,022.
Obesity is responsible for an additional $190 billion a year  in healthcare costs, or one-fifth of all healthcare spending,  Reuters reported last month, plus billions more in higher health  insurance premiums, lost productivity and  absenteeism.
The IOM panel included members from academia, government,  and the private sector. It scrutinized some 800 programs and  interventions to identify those that can significantly reduce  the incidence of obesity within 10 years.
“There has been a tendency to look for a single solution,  like putting a big tax on soda or banning marketing (of  unhealthy food) to children,” panel chairman Dan Glickman, a  senior fellow of the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former  secretary of the Department of Agriculture, told Reuters. “What  this report says is this is not a one-solution problem.”
The panel identifies taxing sugar-sweetened beverages as a  “potential action,” noting that “their link to obesity is  stronger than that observed for any other food or beverage.”
A 2011 study estimated that a penny-per-ounce tax could  reduce per capita consumption by 24 percent. As a Reuters report  described last month, vigorous lobbying by the soda industry  crushed recent efforts to impose such a tax in several states,  including New York.
“I do not think in any way, shape or form that such punitive  measures will change behaviors,” said Rhona Applebaum, Coca-Cola  Co.‘s chief scientific and regulatory officer. Anyone  deterred by the tax from buying sweetened soda, she said, will  replace those calories with something else.
The committee also grappled with one of the third rails of  American politics: farm policy. Price-support programs for  wheat, cotton and other commodity crops prohibit participating  farmers from planting fruits and vegetables on land enrolled in  those programs. Partly as a result, U.S. farms do not produce  enough fresh produce for all Americans to eat the recommended  amounts, and the IOM panel calls for removing that ban.
The committee did not endorse the call by food activist  Michael Pollan and others to eliminate farm subsidies that make  high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils  and other obesity-promoting foods very cheap, however. “There is  no evidence subsidies contribute to obesity,” said Glickman.
The True Lack of Choice
The traditional view that blames obesity on a failure of  personal responsibility and individual willpower “has been used  as the basis for resisting government efforts — legislative and  regulatory — to address the problem,” says the report. But the  IOM panel argues that people cannot truly exercise “personal  choice” because their options are severely limited, and “biased  toward the unhealthy end of the continuum.”
For instance, a lack of sidewalks makes it impossible to  safely walk to work, school or even neighbors’ homes in many  communities. So while 20 percent of trips between school and  home among kids 5 to 15 were on foot in 1977, that had dropped  to 12.5 percent by 2001.
The panel therefore recommended tax incentives for  developers to build sidewalks and trails in new housing  developments, zoning changes to require pedestrian access and  policies to promote bicycle commuting. Flexible financing, and  streamlined permitting or tax credits could be used as  encouragement.
The IOM report also calls for making schools the focus of  anti-obesity efforts, since preventing obesity at a young age is  easier than reversing it. According to the most recent data,  only 4 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle  schools and 2 percent of high schools provided daily physical  education for all students.
The IOM report recommends requiring primary and secondary  schools to have at least 60 minutes of physical education and  activity each day. It calls for banning sugar-sweetened drinks  in schools and making drinking water freely available.
The report also urges that healthy food and drinks be easily  available everywhere Americans eat, from shopping centers to  sports facilities and chain restaurants. The idea is that more  people will eat healthier if little active choice is needed.
“We’ve taken fat and sugar, put it in everything everywhere,  and made it socially acceptable to eat all the time,” David  Kessler, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,  told Reuters. He was not part of the IOM panel.
“We’re living in a food carnival, constantly bombarded by  food cues, almost all of them unhealthy,” Kessler said.
Experience has shown that when businesses offer consumers a  full range of choices – and especially when the healthy option  is the default – many customers will opt for salads over  deep-fried everything.
Walt Disney Co., for instance, found more than 50  percent of customers accepted a healthier choice of foods  introduced at its theme parks. And last summer, fast-food giant  McDonald’s Corp said it would include apples, fewer  fries, and 20 percent fewer calories in the most popular Happy  Meals for kids.
The IOM report urges employers and insurers to do more to  combat obesity. United Health  Group offers a health  insurance plan in which a $5,000 yearly deductible can be  reduced to $1,000 if a person is not obese and does not smoke.  Some employers provide discounts on premiums for completing  weight-loss programs.
Such inducements are far from universal, however. Medicaid  for the poor does not cover weight-loss programs in many states.  And as of 2008, only 28 percent of full-time workers in the  private sector and 54 percent in government had access to  wellness programs.                                                                                                               Bipartisan Policy Center, Calorie, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dan Glickman, diet, Dieting, dieting programs, Eating, Fitness, Food, Health, Human nutrition, Institute of Medicine, IOM, Loss Weight, NEW YORK, Physical exercise, Portion control (dieting), Reuters, Top Weight loss, United States, Weight, Weight Loss Tips, weight tips


One thought on “Obesity Fight Must Shift From Personal Blame, IOM Urges

  1. […] = ''; } Monthly Fitness Report: Month 4Does Cutting Out Sugary Drinks Help With Weight Loss?Obesity Fight Must Shift From Personal Blame, IOM Urges /* wpsociallock, so that facebook's button will be aligned with tweet button */ .fb_iframe_widget […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s