Tuesday, May 20, 2008

America Has To Get Moving To Curb Epidemic

“The problem at first was that the problem was ignored: For almost two decades, young people in the United States got fatter and fatter — ate more, sat more — and nobody seemed to notice. Not parents or schools, not medical groups or the government. But since the alarm was finally sounded in the late 1990s, the problem has been the country’s reaction: a fragmented response that critics say suffers lack of direction and money to back it up. ‘The sense of this as a national health priority just doesn’t come through,’ said Jeffrey P. Koplan of Emory University, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and chairman of the Institute of Medicine’s 2004 study of childhood obesity. The top recommendation of that seminal report was for the government to convene a high-level, interdepartmental task force to guide a coordinated response. It never happened. But U.S. epidemic won’t be reversed by federal fiat alone; responsibility lies also with individuals, the health community, corporations, local governments and families. Still, health experts insist that strong leadership is crucial. But advocates say the limited power of persuasion and lesser state and local resources make forceful federal measures imperative. Jeffrey Levi urges an all-hands mobilization similar to what the government has demanded in advance of a possible flu pandemic. “Obesity has potentially as great, if not greater, an impact on public health,:” said Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health.”


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