27. Community Activi(ty)sm

A new survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pegged the percentage of obese adults in the United States during 2007 at 26 percent.  That number is down from 34 percent in 2006.

We’re getting skinnier!

Not so fast.

Heights and weights were self reported.

From the Associated Press article:

CDC officials believe the telephone survey of 350,000 adults offers conservative estimates of obesity rates, because it’s based on what respondents said about their height and weight. Men commonly overstate their height and women often lowball their weight, health experts say.

The CDC conducts a more reliable study in which researchers “actually weigh and measure” participants.  That is where the 34 percent number comes from—its much more indicative of actual obesity levels.

Another AP article reports that we can do something about our staggering obesity issues.  An analysis by the Trust for America’s Health and several public health groups says that if we spend $10 per person over five years we would have the capital necessary to fight obesity resulting in significant annual cost savings.

Here’s the math: $10 x 300,000,000 American population x 5 years = $15,000,000,000.

The end result: reduced obesity levels resulting in annual savings of $16,000,000,000.

Full disclosure: research has been conducted suggesting that treating obesity doesn’t save money.

Regardless, the point is that this is about making Americans healthier.

Some local programs have already been implemented.  Read the article for examples.

It is time for all hospitals to jump on board.  A public health focus will be better for all of us.

Principle #27: Our Own System realizes the role of health care in a community is to help people be healthy.  Most of the time that means caring for patients with medical conditions.  It can also be about promoting healthier lifestyles before they arrive for treatment resulting from unhealthful behaviors.  The hospital’s job is to do both.  Promoting healthful activity is the basis of community activitysm.

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