Ask any doctor or health expert to tell you what's the most pressing medical issue in American today and he or she will say, "Obesity." Not cancer, not heart disease, not high blood pressure, but obesity. All it takes is a simple look around the country to see that most Americans need help with their diets.
Once again, I thought this was a perfect issue to bring to the Casual Kitchen Blogger Roundtable (see other Blogger roundtable discussions here at Casual Kitchen). And so, I sent this question around to our roundtable team members:
What is your top suggestion for the Obama administration to help solve America's obesity epidemic?
As expected, their responses were blunt, creative and further proof that great ideas come when we think together. Here are their thoughts:
Joy, author of What I Weigh Today:
The most important thing is to implement health insurance reform that would provide income-sensitive coverage for everyone and that would include prevention, nutrition counseling, access to fitness centers, early and regular testing for the so-called lifestyle diseases and mental health care.
Another extremely important action the Obama administration could take would be to remove the subsidies built into the farm bill that make it profitable to mass produce the kinds of food that compromise our health while making it expensive and difficult to grow the kinds of food that promote health. Greater oversight and regulation of the processed food industry is also urgently needed.
Joanne, author of Eats Well With Others:
First of all, BAN HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Unlike glucose or other sugars, the human body has difficulty regulating the absorption of fructose, and it can easily lead to insulin-resistance and diabetes.
Second, EDUCATION IS KEY. Before I set about losing my fifty pounds I had no idea what a calorie was. Sure, I knew what was “good” and “bad” but only in a very abstract way. For example, how many people realize a 1500 calorie McDonald’s value meal is equal to their calorie expenditure for the day, or one lemon poppy seed muffin from Costco has the same calories as 10 apples?
A good way to remediate this would be to start teaching kids about nutrition when they are young. We can teach them the difference between first and second order foods and introduce them to fruits and vegetables in an appealing way in the same way we have DARE programs in schools to teach children that drugs and alcohol are bad.
Tara, author of Beach Eats:
My suggestion would be to focus on some combination of nutritional education and the revision of school lunch programs. I believe its important to build a foundation for life-long healthy eating and what better place to start than with our nation's youth? If school lunch programs could be revamped to focus on fresh, whole foods, rather than salty, fatty, manufactured junk, we might begin to develop a broader segment of the population committed to eating well from the start.
Jules, author of stonesoup:
Educate, educate, educate. If people don't know the basics of preparing fresh, nutritious inexpensive and most of all satisfying food, we will never be able to beat obesity.
Tyler, author of 344 Pounds:
While the obesity epidemic is a serious health risk to America, I don't believe it's the responsibility of any government--Republican or Democrat--to tell anybody how they should live their lives, even if it's "for their own good." While I support trying to solve the obesity epidemic in America, I don't believe it's the government's job to protect people from themselves.
That being said, there are wonderful organizations operating with private donations (including mine) like Bill Clinton's Alliance for a Healthier Generation. It tries to educate our youth on the benefits of eating healthy, exercise, and the risks of obesity.
Readers, here's your chance to sound off. What are your thoughts on this issue?
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