Tuesday, September 16, 2008

F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2008

The fifth annual report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation examines obesity on a state-by-state basis. A telling finding is that the obesity rate has not declined in any state. Within the adult population, Massachusetts ranks 48th in terms of obesity, 33rd for hypertension, 41st for diabetes, and 35th for physical inactivity. Among children and adolescents, 11.1% of Bay State high school students were considered obese and 14.6% were overweight.

Additional rankings and surveys from the CDC and other agencies provide data for policymakers to assess the effectiveness of initiatives. The report presents trends in standards, laws, and regulations; policies in land use and transportation are also covered. Statewide obesity plans are compared and evaluated on a number of variables, such as goals for a healthier workforce.

The Trust calls for the formation of a National Strategy to Combat Obesity by the next President. As in past efforts to promote highway safety and reduce youth smoking, the federal government would direct Cabinet agencies to develop and implement policies and programs within their jurisdiction. By leveraging its resources, the government is in a unique position to set priorities and bring together local and state governments, the private sector, and organizations to work toward a healthier society.

- Tina Vegelante, Reference/Interlibrary Loan Librarian