F as in Fat 2004

How Obesity Policies are Failing in America

October 2004

A new report from Trust for America's Health finds that national and state policies are falling far short of obesity control and reduction goals.

TFAH concludes that America does not have the aggressive, coordinated national and state strategies needed to address the crisis, and that threatens to make the epidemic worse. 41 states have obesity levels over 20 percent. Nearly 119 million American adults, 65 percent of the population, are currently overweight or obese. The direct and indirect costs of obesity in America are more than $117 billion per year.

Some key findings from the study include:

  • The federal government faces organizational issues, including a lack of designated leadership, a bureaucratic tangle of involved agencies, and a need to learn to balance the often competing interests of industry and public health.
  • Obesity and obesity-related disease rates are escalating throughout the nation.
  • Most school food and physical activity programs and policies need more aggressive support and attention.
  • State policies and actions aimed at obesity are fragmented and inadequate.

To help combat the obesity crisis, TFAH's report recommends a number of specific government actions.

Executive Summary (228k .pdf)

Complete Report (976k .pdf)

TFAH Release: New Report Finds 41 States Have Obesity Levels Over 20 Percent; State and Federal Obesity Policies are Failing

Obesity Conference Call: Listen to the October 20th conference call discussing TFAH's obesity report (22 minutes, RealPlayer required)

Note: In November 2004, CDC researchers announced that agency estimates on the number of obesity deaths per year and related data figures were inflated due to statistical error. Revised estimates will be presented in March 2005. While the specific numbers related to the scope of the obesity problem will lower, the health risks of obesity and overweight remain consistent and unquestioned and TFAH's report recommendations remain appropriate.