Last week on Mr. Bolos' blog post regarding mental and physical health, there was much discussion about America's growing problem with obesity. The post titled: Sunday "Service" in Waukegan, IL can be found here, if you would like to jump in on our previous discussion regarding what our society can do to address physical and mental health. It is no question that obesity is a huge issue as over two-thirds of our nation is overweight. Researchers from the Brookings Institute have concluded that " Estimated medical costs of obesity are as high as $147 billion a year for 2008." Not only are the costs of obesity insurmountable, but it also has devastating effects on a person's overall health and life expectancy. Oxford University research found that "moderate obesity, which is now common, reduces life expectancy by about 3 years, and that severe obesity, which is still uncommon, can shorten a person’s life by 10 years. This 10 year loss is equal to the effects of lifelong smoking." The effects of obesity are detrimental and hit low income families and areas much harder. In low income areas especially, obesity is an epidemic. Many researchers contend that the reasons include the lacking of full-service grocery stores and farmers' markets in poorer areas, and many cheap foods are high-calorie and high-fat products.
I made it a special mention, in Bolos' post to mention the vital importance of exercise in a healthy community, and country. Another huge problem with obesity, especially in low-income areas is there are fewer opportunities for physical activity. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) did a study which you can read here, and determined that low income neighborhoods have fewer resources for physical activity such as parks, bike paths, etc. and that low income children are less likely to both participate in organized sports, and have less time being active in PE class. I really do think our country has a obligation to address the issues of obesity, especially in these low income areas. This is where we see the highest percentages of obesity, and instituting plans to reduce obesity would really benefit both our economy down the road, and the health of our citizens, starting with those who may need it most in low income areas. Do you think our government has an obligation to help fund low-income areas to better resources to combat obesity? Please comment your thoughts below.