Childhood Obesity and Healthcare Policy in the US

Introduction

Childhood obesity is posing a threat to the well-being of several Americans. It is causing a grave impact on the economy as the government and the state spend billions of dollars to settle health expenses that are associated with obesity. The increasing cost of health in the US is mainly influenced by its failure to control obesity during childhood. The labor force is consistently becoming less industrious due to the health problems that grown-up obese citizens become vulnerable to, thus injuring the American economy. In less than three decades, the number of obese adults has grown by more than 200 percent whilst that of youngsters has tripled. The presence of germane policies is necessary if the government seeks to reduce the health budget or improve the productivity of its citizens, which will ultimately stabilize the economy. Childhood obesity is a matter of intense concern for nurses considering that they are care providers and that most of the health problems that patients are diagnosed with can be controlled.

Background and Problem of Childhood Obesity

According to Dawes (2014), childhood obesity has evolved to become an epidemic in America to the extent of harming almost every sector in the country. Medical practitioners have discovered a proximate connection between obesity and chronic diseases such as cardiac problems, cancer, and lung ailments among several diseases. The efforts to control chronic ailments will remain futile unless mechanisms are developed to tackle childhood obesity (Trust for America’s Health, 2014). Experts such as Dawes (2014) claim that the steadily rising cost of health will not dwindle unless the country is able to control the rate of childhood obesity. Statistical findings indicate that approximately 30 percent of patients who are admitted to hospitals have ailments that are triggered or exacerbated by childhood obesity (Trust for America’s Health, 2014). Any serious disease is threat to the nation, particularly childhood obesity. The current and subsequent generations will have a shorter lifespan relative to their predecessors if child obesity persists. Nevertheless, the rates of obesity keep on rising by day (Dawes, 2014). More than a quarter of Americans are obese. Children are not immune. Very young children are being vulnerable to obesity and particularly the underprivileged ones. Some students enroll in preschool while already struggling with being overweight. Obese children are likely to grow with obesity until adult age. Therefore, controlling obesity among youngsters is a prudent idea considering the fact that it reduces the number of obese adults (Trust for America’s Health, 2014).

Leaders from different levels of governance have launched programs and policies that are meant to promote a healthier society and avert obesity. Fortunately, their efforts have shown progress with the population of obese youngsters stabilizing after ten years. The rate of obesity is not optimal across the US. Citizens who reside from the South, as well as those who come from ethnic minorities, are the most susceptible (Finkelstein & Zuckerman, 2010). For instance, 40 percent of African-Americans in 11 states are overweight. 30 percent of them are obese in about 41 states. More than 30 percent of Latinos struggle with obesity in 21 states whilst the highest rate recorded for obese Whites is about 34 percent. Despite the good progress in averting obesity, there is a need to eliminate the inequality gaps for the existing policies to become more effective. Policy developers must strive to offer opportunities for every individual to live a healthy life (Dawes, 2014).

According to Trust for America’s Health (2014), the need to focus on children is imperative mainly because statistical findings indicate that childhood obesity has not gotten to the plateau level. Hence, the chances for the rate rising higher are probable. Moreover, promoting good health among children is assuring a healthier nation in the near future. Of particular concern are five states where the rate of obesity has been skyrocketing. These states include Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The persistence of childhood obesity is linked to a given lifestyle that is popular among Americans. For example, victims of obesity are likely to be consuming high levels of calories while at the same time having minimal physical activities, thus making their bodies unfit. Furthermore, the increased intake of the media and spending long hours using computers also exposes youngsters to the risk of becoming obese (Lobelo, 2013).

Review on Obesity Health Policy

Obesity is a key promoter of avoidable chronic ailments, which cost America close to $210billion annually. Furthermore, job absenteeism due to complications of obesity leads to losses worth $4.3billion yearly. The unnecessary expenses can be contained. Analysts such as Lobelo (2013) assert that if obesity rates are reduced, America is likely to save $29.8billion within a year and $611.7billion in two decades (Trust for America’s Health, 2014).

The goals obesity policies should strive to change the mindset of the citizens, particularly by introducing the phenomenon that obesity is a collective responsibility, rather than personal responsibility. Moreover, obesity policies should strive to eliminate the existing disparity gaps that leave a chunk of the society outside, especially the disadvantaged people, in the fight against obesity.

Policy Recommendations towards averting Obesity

  • The Congress and other relevant authorities should be committed to making childhood obesity a local initiative to improve the health of the current and subsequent generations while at the same time providing the economy with a productive workforce (Voigt, Nicholls & Williams, 2014).
  • The federal government should introduce new taxes to increase the cost of high-calorie foods to discourage their consumption and use the income received to sponsor obesity-prevention programs.
  • The government should create regulations that require restaurants and food joints to disclose the calories of all meals to help people to monitor their intake of calories (Voigt et al., 2014).
  • The state should also set nutrition standards that schools adhere to when stocking their canteens to eliminate the chances of youngsters getting unhealthy meals even after they join school (Lobelo, 2013).
  • The government should work in unity with the agricultural sector to encourage stakeholders to produce more fruits and vegetables and less crops that are used in the formation of high-calorie products.
  • The federal government should cooperate with the private sector that deals with food production to encourage the need for such companies to process healthier foods.
  • The state and local government should set aside more land as playgrounds and parks for recreational activities to keep the constituents physically fit.

Source of Information and Updates about Obesity

Several organizations have ensured that victims of obesity and individuals who are interested in obesity policies in the US can receive updates on the current developments. I can recommend The Obesity Society (TOS) and American Obesity Treatment Association (AOTA). TOS is a specialized organization that is dedicated to researching and informing the public about measures of managing obesity. The organization is proactive. Thus, one can be assured of getting updated information regarding the ongoing trends on obesity policies. Similarly, AOTA is a non-governmental organization that seeks to collaborate with individuals who are burdened with obesity. Its goal is to help them to lose the excess weight and live healthy lives. The organization pays special attention to overweight youngsters in an effort to help them to eliminate the problem before they become adults. This organization offers a good platform for whoever seeks information regarding obesity treatment, as well as policies that govern the disease in the US (Dawes, 2014).

Level of Government Expected to Apply Obesity Policies

The above-recommended policies will cut across various levels of government, namely local, state, and federal government. Obesity has evolved into a national threat. Thus, efforts to eliminate it can only be achieved via cooperation by all stakeholders. The federal government needs to enact laws that set standards on how obesity will be controlled throughout the country whilst the state and local governments will maintain a spirit that is similar to that of the federal government. They should introduce policies that eliminate obesity within their jurisdictions. Furthermore, promoting cooperation among the various levels of governance reduces the disparity gap that currently exists with respect to the rate of obesity spread across the states and ethnic groups (Voigt et al., 2014).

Conclusion

Obesity is harming the development of not only America but also other countries across the world. It is exposing people to chronic diseases such as diabetes. With the skyrocketing rate of obesity in various states and particularly among children, there is a great need to design policies that will be effective in eliminating it. The implementation of the aforementioned policies will be more effective if there is good cooperation between the different levels of government and citizens. Obesity is no longer a personal responsibility, but rather a communal liability.

Reference List

Dawes, L. (2014). Childhood Obesity in America. Massachusetts, MA: Harvard University Press.

Finkelstein, A., & Zuckerman, L. (2010). The Fattening of America: How the Economy Makes Us Fat, If It Matters, and What To Do About It. New Jersey, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Lobelo, F. (2013). School-Based Programs Aimed at the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity: Evidence-Based Interventions for Youth in Latin America School-Based Programs Aimed at the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity: Evidence-Based Interventions for Youth in Latin America. Journal of School Health, 83(9), 668-677.

Trust for America’s Health. (2014). F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future. Web.

Voigt, K., Nicholls, G., & Williams, G. (2014). Childhood Obesity: Ethical and Policy Issues. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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