Obesity had another day in the news. First a Heartwire release about a study that will be published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine and later some insight from Michael Dietz, Director, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the CDC and a spokesperson from the advocacy group Trust for America's Health. The two gentlemen spoke on NPR.
The research study involves data collected from both the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the National Health Interview Survey - multi year multi method strategies for gathering data on the behavior and the disease outcomes of Americans. The study authors have found a difference in the way tobacco use and obesity alter our lives. Simply put, a smoker loses more years of life, period. They die much younger as a rule. Obese persons do not die younger but they spend many more years with disabling conditions. These conditions make them less active and less comfortable. Often they are on numerous medications as well. Thus, obesity costs the country much more money that tobacco. Also smoking rates continue to decline where as in the last fifteen years obesity, BMI over 30, has increased an astounding 85%.
Now on the radio show, it was noted that the ascent of obesity seems to have plateaued. Experts credit this to more awareness of obesity as a health issue and more acceptance of being active and watching the high fat or high calorie foods. Dr. Dietz spoke about public awareness campaigns and TFAH discussed the health reform bills which have provisions for including things such as calorie content on menus and mandated physical activity. Both men discussed the need for an environment that is conducive for the types of change people need to make.
That leads to my observation. It seems that we have made healthy lifestyles socially acceptable now we have to spend our dollars and efforts on making them socially possible.