A recently published study predicted that the rate of diabetes in the US will double by 2034 while the rate of obesity will remain steady. Steady at a pathetic one third of the adult population! The discrepancy takes into account the aging population and how more fat Americans will become diabetic as they age. What does this mean for our country? It means a lot sicker, older population; and a trillion dollars in health care costs that we cannot afford as a country. Our only hope as a society is to start losing weight!
It has been estimated that while one third of the US adult population is obese (greater than 30 pounds over a healthy weight); almost 70% of the adult population is over weight (one to 29 pounds over a healthy weight). This means only 30% of the population is actually close to their ideal weight! Sadly our kids aren't fairing much better. The obesity rate in children is around 20%. This isn't changing much either because of the habits of most kids parents. Fat adults have fat kids. Like begets like.
So what can we do as a society to change this alarming trend? We need widespread lifestyle reform. We need to put the population not just on a quick fix diet, but on a life changing health regimen. Perhaps we should start by making all the kids walk to school. Oh yeah, there aren't enough sidewalks in many towns. Perhaps they can ride their bikes? Oh, same problem; no bike paths. How about increasing physical education in the schools? Darn, there isn't any money for that. And those standardized tests show kids need more classroom time. We've already tried improving the cafeteria food to much healthier choices, but most kids either won't eat it or bring junk food from home.
I've got it! How about an obesity tax that goes straight to public health initiatives? We can fund community health reform with a fat tax. Every time you buy a bag of potato chips or soda, you have to pay an extra sales tax. Maybe we can add a weight column on your income tax forms. No, most people would lie. I don't see the IRS going around weighing people. I think the junk food tax is our best bet. An extra little tax on everything from fast food hamburgers to candy bars. Then we can write a curriculum for adult education on healthy cooking, eating and exercise. Start a community walking program. Start a stress relief support group. Community health clinics focused on weight loss. A real health reform could sweep the nation.
Let's face it. The US cannot afford to continue to allow the majority of the population to be so fat! We spend most of our current health care dollars on chronic disease. Most of these diseases are caused by obesity and smoking. Think about what the US would look like if we lost weight and stopped smoking as a society? We wouldn't need this insane form of health care reform that Congress is trying to pass. The money would be so much better spent on real health reform!
I know we can come up with a plan to decrease the weight of the population. We have to! Our own overindulgence is killing us slowly but surely. Be part of the solution! Encourage better eating and exercise habits with your friends and families. Let's change America one family at a time. Remember that if we fail and this alarming trend continues, this will be the last generation that will have a life expectancy longer then their parents.
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