Office Visit: Obesity affects all
September 27, 2011
by Dr. Joseph Cunningham, chief medical officer and vice president of health care management for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma.
Journal Record (Oklahoma)
I recently saw an image of a swing set that was broken. Underneath it said “It is not the children’s fault.” What better image for us all to keep in mind as we wrap up Childhood Obesity Month.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, nearly one in every three Oklahoma children are overweight or obese. And those children are growing up facing health issues that were once rarely seen in youth, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, blood and joint problems, asthma, sleep apnea and elevated blood-cholesterol levels.
The Trust for America's Health reports that 20 years ago not a single state had an obesity rate over 15 percent. Today, 38 states have obesity rates over 25 percent. The Oklahoma State Department of Health says that nearly 67 percent of Oklahoma adults are either overweight or obese, and the number is 34 percent for Oklahoma youths.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports that obesity has a negative economic impact on our state’s economy of about $1 billion per year.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that obesity costs employers $73.1 billion annually.
How can we alter this trajectory?
First, let’s address our “play deficit.” This needs to happen both in the school setting and at home. Children learn their habits from their parents, so an active family is important. My employer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, is working with KaBoom! and the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation to build a playground on Nov. 12. This will offer area children a safe and healthy outdoor space to participate in the recommended 60 minutes of recommended daily activity. We also are partnering with the Tulsa YMCA to provide an after-school 5K and fun run training program, leading up to the Route 66 Marathon events later this fall
Second, we need to focus on healthy eating. It can start with the simple addition of more fruits and vegetables to diets. The Produce for Better Health Foundation’s website, pbhfoundation.org, offers easy recipes and tips on how to get kids to eat more fruit and vegetables.
As partners in the community, BCBSOK wants to improve the health of all Oklahomans, and that includes our children.
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