American Heart Association: Government Needs to Help Fight Obesity
Editor’s note: These remarks, from Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association, analyze a recent report on obesity in the U.S. — one of our greatest public-health issues – and talks about the need for politicians to get involved.
This year’s State of Obesity report from Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the latest evidence that adult obesity rates in the U.S. have steadied in recent years. After decades of sharp increases, this counts as a significant achievement. But with rates still far too high among both adults and kids, particularly among low-income and minority communities, leaders at all levels of government – local, state, and federal – must take action and build on this progress.
States and localities should work to ensure that schools promote wellness by serving and promoting healthy foods and ensuring adequate time for effective physical education and physical activity; that streets are safe for everyone to get around, whether they walk, bike, roll or drive and there are safe places for people to be active; that healthy and affordable foods are accessible in every neighborhood; and support sugary drink taxes that drive consumers to choose to purchase healthier drinks and provide revenue for evidence-based programs that promote health equity.
Congress and the Administration must show real bipartisan leadership that builds and strengthens on progress rather than turning back the clock to an unhealthier past. It will be critical to maintain current school foods nutrition standards instead of rolling them back or eliminating parts of them; implementing menu labeling rules and updating the Nutrition Facts label instead of delaying them; ensuring adequate funding for Medicaid; fully funding the Student Support and Academic Enrichment block grant program that schools can use for physical education curriculum; and protecting the integrity and funding levels of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – if not increasing the monthly benefit level – while looking for innovating ways to address dietary quality.
The health of our country is at a critical point; we urge our policymakers to rise to the challenge.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit http://www.heart.org/ or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About the American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke — the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association officially launched in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit http://www.strokeassociation.org/. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.