Fat Country

America Moves to Overturn Obesity Epidemic




The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States during the past 20 years (www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html). In 2008, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent. Thirty-two states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25 percent. Awareness of the vital need to counter this trend along with the wide range of associated health risks is on the rise thanks to educational efforts on many fronts.  Here are some of the latest.

This February, First Lady Michelle Obama launched her national “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign to end what she calls “the epidemic of childhood obesity” in a single generation. Her campaign is set to engage children, parents, governors, mayors, educators, school nutrition leaders and food manufacturers.

In March and April, ABC-TV created a stir with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, a special series covering a case study bent on changing eating habits in the Huntington, West Virginia, metropolitan area. The tri-state region was labeled the unhealthiest place in the country in 2006, based on health habits and U.S. government statistics. Oliver has succeeded in transforming the school lunch system in Britain for the better; now he’s taking on America. “One thing I learned here in the States is that once you get in people’s homes, there’s a yearning for information and help,” says Oliver. “It’s as consistent as clockwork.” He says he’s never worked with a family of four that live on junk food that don’t end up spending less eating fresh. In his experience, “they save an average $100-$150 a week.”

Now, Hunter Lussi, 15, the world’s youngest certified Olympic-distance triathlete, is challenging Americans to train this summer to establish a new record for the largest group ever to participate in a triathlon. He’s challenging Americans young and old to complete the equivalent of his first triathlon (at age 6) by attempting, as individuals or in a relay team, a 500-yard swim/paddle/float, 10-mile bike/spin/roll and 2.5-mile run/walk/roll this coming Labor Day and every Labor Day.

“If I can go from being a chubby kid to where I am now, anyone can do this,” says Lussi. Sign up at www.AmericasTriForHealth.com.

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