American society and cultural norms promotes obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, almost 28 percent of American adults are obese. There are health, financial and medical consequences that our country pays for because of this illness. Obesity in the United States is epidemic and it is time to take preventive approaches to preventing it.
Impact of Obesity
There are many different devastating costs to a country with an obesity problem. The CDC reports that up to 580,000 deaths a year may be attributable to obesity related illnesses. In addition, quality of life is impacted because of related problems such as diabetes, stroke or osteoporosis.
Primary prevention means preventing the illness before it happens. In the case of obesity, primary prevention efforts include focusing on healthy lifestyle behaviors related to maintaining a normal weight. Practicing good nutrition and having regular physical activity are methods of preventing obesity. Policies that promote good nutrition and physical activity are other measures of primary prevention.
There are different approaches that the CDC recommends. These include environmental, policy and community level strategies to promote healthy behaviors. Some examples are to make sure that healthy food choices are affordable and accessible in communities and schools, or limiting portion sizes of entrees or advertisements of unhealthy entrees. Other methods may be to discourage sugar sweetened beverages or increase the amount of physical activity during the school day.
Obesity in Children
Obesity in children has tripled in the past 30 years. Obesity in children can lead to obesity in adulthood. This predisposes children affected to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other health problems. Children may have psychological consequences from being stigmatized or have poor self-esteem from being obese according to the CDC.
Prevention Approaches in Schools
Schools are an essential part of the primary prevention of obesity in children. Most children in the United States are enrolled in a school, while there is the potential for students to eat the majority of their daily intake while in school. The CDC promotes healthy school policies in order to improve healthy eating and increase physical activity in young persons. Some suggestions include the development of a school health council, health education courses and a quality school meals program.