A letter from health experts to President-elect Obama urges bold action to stem the obesity epidemic in America, warning that increased rates of obesity could lead to the first generation of Americans with shorter life spans than their parents.
“What is lacking is not well-conceived ideas for policies and programs, but a national commitment to wage a comprehensive campaign to prevent and reverse overweight and obesity, a war that should begin in the womb and infancy, extend to schools, then include workplaces, doctors’ offices, and the general community.”
49 prominent health and medical organizations and 44 prominent physicians and nutrition experts, led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), signed the letter to Obama, stating that the obesity epidemic is harming Americans’ health just as global warming is harming the planet. The group goes on to say that “Addressing obesity could be one of the most powerful means of improving the health of the nation.”
Among the groups endorsing the message to Obama are the American Heart Association, American Public Health Association, Shape Up America!, The Obesity Society, and the Partnership for Prevention and Trust for America’s Health. Doctors from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Cooper Clinic University of Michigan Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health also signed the letter.
“The harms caused by obesity are well-known and considerable: hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and many others. Together those maladies contribute each year to as many as several hundred thousand deaths and tens of billions of dollars in medical and other costs. Obesity also causes serious psychosocial problems, including difficulty making friends, discrimination in the workplace, and depression.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over the last thirty years, the rates of obesity have doubled in adults and tripled in children, and almost two-thirds of US adults are either overweight or obese. The costs of obesity to families, businesses and government run to about $117 billion each year in health care and related costs.