Policy Tools to Fight Obesity

Obesity remains one of America’s most pervasive, expensive and deadly health problems.  Obesity increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, arthritis, liver disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, gallbladder disease and mental health issues, as well as many types of cancer.  During pregnancy it increases the chances of complications, including diabetes, cesarean delivery and stillbirth.  Each year, obesity is associated with more than 100,000 premature deaths in the US (2,000 in Arizona).

These days more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese (29% in Arizona).  Back in 1990 only 10% of adults were obese.   Needless to say- a Big problem.

The causes of obesity are complicated but the bottom line is that most Americans don’t eat enough healthy food or get enough physical activity.  Communities designed for transportation by cars, jobs that require hours sitting behind a desk, and entertainment revolves around watching a screen all encourage a sedentary lifestyle. Processed food and sugar-sweetened beverages are heavily advertised, and often less expensive and more readily available than healthier alternatives.  In lots of places there aren’t grocery stores where people can buy affordable and nutritious food.

What can be done?

A new report from the Trust for America’s Health Trust for America’s Health does a really good job documenting the extent of the surveillance and public health problems posed by obesity- but more importantly- it provides a host of evidence based (and practical) state and local policies that are being implemented that are making a difference.  These tools provide states and communities with info so that they don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

State policies play a big role in improving access to healthy food and increasing physical activity.  THAH has developed a new feature that tracks the status of each state's efforts on more than two dozen policies aimed at preventing obesity and supporting health.  

Here’s where you can view state policies to prevent obesity- excellent information that our members can use to advocate for the advancement of state laws and policies that can make a difference.