Monday Program – Week in Review #14

Obesity in the United States has been a known issue for many years, but as 2019 marks an all-time high in regards to obesity rates, many are asking why the problem is growing despite the common knowledge of the associated health dangers. Across the globe, obesity rates amongst children were ten times higher than it was 40 years ago, and many experts in the subject believe that these rates will continue to climb. Data from a study done by the Centers for Disease Control has shown that 20% of kids in the United States are currently affected by obesity. Minor progress has been made to increase the healthiness of food served within public school systems, but it’s clear that the changes have not made enough of an impact. Erica Kenney, a head researcher within the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently stated that “Addressing childhood obesity is absolutely like playing whack-a-mole,” she said. “There are so many pieces to this, so many factors that are cultural, environmental, political and systemic. You target one or two pieces of it and then 10 more take its place. Everyone wants healthier kids. But no one has yet come up with the best strategy to make that happen.” While it is impossible to pinpoint one reason why obesity rates have continued to climb, many believe there has been certain laziness in regards to policymaking that allows people of all financial levels to have the financial ability to eat healthy food, rather than passively blaming poorer families for their lack of quality nutrition. Dr. Catherine Toomer, MD, and local health wellness and weight loss consultant, commented on the issue by mentioning “People’s knowledge of their bodies and how they work has diminished quite a bit. A lot of that, I think, has to do with our education system. Health education is not as common as it used to be. You don’t have home economics, so a lot of people don’t know how to cook anymore. And cooking your food has a lot to do with how well we eat.” It seems that the reasoning for such high obesity rates stems from a lack of education about the dangers that can be caused if an individual doesn’t eat quality foods, as well as a clear price difference between unhealthy vs. healthy food. Families in financially difficult situations shouldn’t be forced to buy unhealthy foods because it’s all that they can afford, but how soon will change be apparent? 

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