Schools, Local Governments Should Address Obesity to Prevent ‘Gruesome’ Rise in Health Costs, Columnist Says
Schools and local governments should develop policies to help fight increased rates of obesity in the United States, syndicated columnist Neal Peirce writes in a Baltimore Sun opinion piece. Peirce warns that the obesity rate among U.S. children has increased by 42% since 1980 and calls on school districts to bolster physical education requirements. According to Peirce, a surgeon general report released last year found that only one in four U.S. high school students participates in daily physical education, down from 42% in the early 1990s. In addition, Peirce writes that local governments "could do a lot to create healthier environments." Peirce recommends that local governments "construct full networks of walking, jogging and bicycling paths" to increase participation in the exercises and establish "true town and neighborhood centers in walking or biking distance of homes." Peirce adds that local governments could encourage individuals to take stairs rather than an elevator, limit new parking facilities to "tilt the scales toward walking and biking" and build playgrounds and gyms in low-income neighborhoods "comparable in number and quality to those in middle-class areas." Peirce concludes that local governments must enact policies to reduce obesity, which has contributed to increased rates of diabetes and other conditions, or the "health cost implications for the future may well be gruesome" (Peirce, Baltimore Sun, 3/28).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.