National, Coordinated Strategy To Combat Obesity Needed, Report Says
CDC should become the nation's "command and control center" to manage the obesity problem by coordinating programs between state and federal agencies, according to a report released Wednesday by the Trust for America's Health, USA Today reports (Hellmich, USA Today, 10/21). The report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America," found that 41 states and the District of Columbia have adult obesity rates higher than 20% and that not one state is on track to reach the national goal of rates of 15% or less by 2010 (Shelton, Orlando Sentinel, 10/21). In Alabama, 28.4% of adults are obese -- the highest percentage nationwide. Colorado has the lowest percentage of obese adults, with 16% (Smith, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10/21). According to the study, current state efforts to reduce obesity rates are inadequate and disjointed, and federal efforts are complicated by a lack of "designated leadership and bureaucratic tangle" (Orlando Sentinel, 10/21). The report recommends that CDC:
- Form a task force to organize a national plan to decrease obesity;
- Coordinate all public education campaigns (USA Today, 10/21);
- Assume the U.S. Department of Agriculture's role in establishing national nutritional guidelines to ensure that they are based on nutritional research and not influenced by the agricultural industry, which USDA promotes (Orlando Sentinel, 10/21);
- Create a "Rapid Response Obesity Investigative Service" that would help communities coordinate studies to develop effective obesity control and prevention programs;
- Evaluate youth fitness, school physical education programs and the impact of fitness on classroom performance;
- Examine the impact of advertising on children's health and diet (USA Today, 10/21); and
- Increase its obesity grants to states from $45 million to at least $70 million (Lee, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/21).
Shelley Hearne, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, said, "This really is a health crisis that will overtake tobacco as the leading preventable health problem and will soon become the No. 1 killer in America" (Orlando Sentinel, 10/21). She added, "We need a game plan that has some teeth to it." Bill Pierce, a spokesperson for HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, said the secretary has implemented "many of the initiatives that the Trust for America's Health is recommending," such as having an obesity task force, sponsoring public education campaigns, supporting healthy communities and increasing obesity research spending (USA Today, 10/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.