Orange County Register Examines Schwarzenegger Proposal for Program To Address Obesity
As part of his state budget plan, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Monday proposed providing $6 million for the California Obesity Initiative, a new project that has "encouraged" some health experts but has drawn criticism from others who say more funding is needed to address obesity in California, the Orange County Register reports. The initiative would provide funding for the Department of Health Services to promote healthy eating habits and regular exercise by:
- Improving the nutritional quality of food and beverages served in schools;
- Making obesity prevention and intervention services more accessible through public and private health insurance programs;
- Encouraging health insurers and employers to offer incentives to employees who engage in physical activity and lead healthy lifestyles;
- Helping communities become more conducive to physical activity;
- Advocating the promotion of healthy eating and physical activity in the workplace; and
- Increasing obesity prevention outreach and education.
Public Health Officer Richard Jackson said, "What we have now are fragmentary programs that are federally funded, but we don't have a coherent effort." He added, "We're not absolutely sure which of the interventions are going to work best. In every sense of the word, this is a good investment."
Harold Goldstein, executive director for the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, said, "We're pleased that given the dire fiscal condition that the state is in that the governor is making childhood obesity a priority."
Dan Cooper, a pediatrics professor and researcher at the University of California-Irvine, said, "While the governor's initiative is welcome, I don't believe that without proper funding we're going to achieve the goal of turning about this epidemic." He added, "You have to attack the problem at all levels. I don't think we should just give up on adults. But if I had a limited amount of resources, I would put it in the schools. It's not just about obesity; it's about developing habits in childhood that are quite likely to last a lifetime" (Saar, Orange County Register, 1/12).