Obesity continues to rise in most states of our country.

Massive public efforts to curb the U.S. obesity epidemicare falling tragically short, with populations in most states becoming more obese with each passing year, according to a new report that underscores the failure of initiatives aimed at promoting exercise and good nutrition. The discouraging trends, reported in the fifth annual “F as in Fat: How ObesityPolicies Are Failing in America, 2008″ report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), reveal that obesity rates rose in 37 states in the past year, while no state registered a decrease in obesity.

Worse, in 24 states the uptick continued a trend seen from the previous year. Obesity rates rose for a third consecutive year in a total of 19 states.

“Our analysis found that on the state and community levels, overall we are not treating the obesity epidemic with the urgent response it deserves,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of TFAH, during a Tuesday morning press conference
As in years past, states in the South were found to have particularly high obesity levels. The region accounted for nine of the top 10 most obese states.

Mississippi holds the dubious honor as the most obese state, with 31.7 percent of adults qualifying as obese. Colorado is the slimmest state, with only 18.4 percent of the adult population classified as obese — but even this figure is the result of two years of steadilyincreasing obesity rates.
According to the report, Colorado remains the only state in which the adult obesity rate is less than 20 percent.

“In 1991, no state had an obesity rate of more than 20 percent,” said Dr. James Marks, senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, during the press conference. He added that the new figures are cause for “urgency and outright alarm.” “It’s shocking, the rate of this increase… Our nation is in a public health epidemic that continues undiminished,” he said.

The findings suggest that Americans are further than ever from achieving the health goals set forth by Healthy People 2010 — an effort that aims to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults to less than 15 percent and among children to less than 5 percent by the year 2010.

Young people generally become overweight or obese because they do not get enough physical activity in combination with poor eating habits. Genetics and lifestyle also contribute to a child’s weight status.

Recommendations for prevention of overweight and obesity during childhood and adolescence include:

1. Gradually try to change family eating habits and activity levels rather than focusing on a child’s weight.

2. Be a role model. Parents who eat healthy foods and participate in physical activity set an example so that a child is more likely to do the same. Obese parents almost always have obese children!

Enroll your children in athletic activities. When your children are young, allow them to try out different sports to find out what they enjoy. Keeping your children active will help them keep excess weight at bay as they enter their teenage years.

Encourage your children to play outside and limit the amount of time they spend watching television and playing video games. Staying inside and playing video games contribute to teenage weight gain. Bring your children to the park, community pool or take them outside to go sledding or ice skating during winter months. Take your kids to a real game.  He will remember forever the first visit to Madison Square Garden or Fenway Park.

Teach your children that remaining active is not hard work but can be a lot of fun. Set a good example by making exercise part of your daily routine. If mother or father play basketball, soccer, volleyball, football, or they themselves jog, run, swim, weight lift, or do martial arts or any other physical activities – this will be the best example for the kids.

That is why there so many sport dynasties in our country whose names are well known and admired: the Mannings and the Matthews in football, the Ewings and Rivers in basketball, the Earnhardts in car racing, the Hulls in hockey, and many others.

3. Teach your children the importance of healthy eating and, again, lead by example. Feed your children whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Try to avoid fast food as much as possible – too much fat, too much salt and sugar, too many artificial colorings, sweeteners, conservants. If your kids get used to eating healthy as young children, they are more likely to continue to make healthy food choices as they get older.

Prepare meals ahead of time. Making meals at home can be difficult when schedules are packed full. Take time once a week to cook meals for the remainder of the week. You can make meals, such as baked chicken, that you can freeze, then thaw as needed. If you have meals ready to go at home, you can avoid eating fast food when you are strapped for time.

Eliminate sugary drinks from your children’s diet. The extra calories can easily pack on the pounds. Drinking water instead is not only good for your children’s health, it also promotes healthy weight loss and maintenance.

4. Reduce screen time in front of the television and computer to less than two hours daily.

5. Encourage children to eat when hungry, eat small portions, eat often and eat slowly.

6. Avoid using food as a reward or withholding food as a punishment.

7. Keep the refrigerator stocked with fat-free or low-fat milk, fresh fruits, and vegetables instead of soft drinks and snacks high in sugar and fat.

8. Serve at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

9. Encourage children to drink water rather than beverages with added sugar, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juice drinks.


Remember: health, weight control, healthy eating, sport activities are not the matter of short-term boost for summer or for the prom! They are the best ways of life for years to come for you and your future children.


About the author: ChineseHerbalAdviser