Katherine Knoll: Schools, communities must join our fight against obesity
December 8, 2012
by Katherine Knoll
Port Huron Times Herald
Recently, the organization Trust for America's Health published its “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012” report. The facts are frightening.
Currently, more than 65 percent of Michigan residents are considered overweight or obese, and more than 27 percent of high school students are considered overweight or obese.
According to the report, if the trend continues, by 2030 nearly 60 percent of Michigan’s population will be struggling with obesity. This does not account for the number of residents considered “overweight.”
Health care costs to treat obesity-related health conditions will jump 19 percent by 2030, and the number of new diabetes cases diagnosed will affect approximately 14 percent of our state population.
As a mother of young children and an advocate for health, these stats concern me.
If the trend continues, this generation of children is not expected to surpass the life expectancy of those before them.
However, the report does reveal a silver lining.
The report shows that if Michiganders can lower their BMI by five percent by 2030, the state can not only reduce the number people struggling with obesity by six percent but also could save more than $24 million in health care costs by 2030.
The idea that lowering a person’s BMI by five percent could create such a cost and health savings gives me hope.
What makes me most hopeful is the idea that lowering a person’s BMI by five percent is a realistic and attainable goal.
For an average adult, reducing BMI by one percent is equal to losing 2.2 pounds.
However, for many people who have tried to shed the pounds, the path isn’t an easy one.
There is a way to make this an easier task for all Michiganders.
In addition to the commitment that needs to be made at home like eating more nutritious food and becoming more physically active, families need to be able to rely on their state and local communities to create environments where healthy choices become easier choices.
As an example, parents need to be confident that their children are receiving fresh, healthy meals and snacks at school.
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