Today, two-thirds of U.S. adults and nearly one in three children struggle because they are overweight or have obesity.  The effects of the nation’s obesity epidemic are immense:  taxpayers, businesses, communities and individuals spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year due to obesity, including nearly $200 billion in medical costs.  Obesity is the reason that the current generation of youth is predicted to live a shorter life than their parents.  Much can be done to reverse the epidemic, yet important opportunities to tackle obesity at the national policy level -- including changes that enable more Americans to eat healthy and be active, as well as those that provide appropriate medical treatment for patients -- have gone largely unmet.  The Campaign works to fill this gap.  By bringing together leaders from across industry, academia and public health with policymakers and their advisors, the Campaign provides the information and guidance that decision-makers need to make policy changes that will reverse one of the nation’s costliest and most prevalent diseases.

Ribble, Pocan team up on long-term approach to medical research funding
Green Bay Press-Gazette, 4.9.14
Rep. Reid Ribble calls himself a “budgeteer” and can often be heard ruminating on the fiscal benefits of such banal-sounding topics as inter-modal transportation. So when the Green Bay-area Republican decided to tackle the issues of chronic diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s, he approached it as a number-cruncher. The product of his work — the “Long-Term Studies of Comprehensive Outcomes and Returns for the Economy Act” — was slated to be introduced Wednesday. The bill would provide $5 million annually to create and run a division within the Congressional Budget Office that would focus on predicting the costs — and benefits — of legislation in the long term, say 20, 30 or even 40 years out. The intent is that those predictions would show that investing in areas like medical research pays for itself in the long run.

'Childhood obesity costs $19,000 per child,' researchers say
Medical News Today, 4.7.14
According to the latest estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of kids and adolescents in the US are overweight or obese. And now, researchers looking at total lifetime medical costs have estimated that, per head, childhood obesity costs $19,000 more than lifetime costs for normal weight children. The researchers, led by Eric Andrew Finkelstein, PhD, MHA, from the Duke Global Health Institute and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, publish their results in the journal Pediatrics. "Reducing childhood obesity is a public health priority that has substantial health and economic benefits," says Finkelstein. "These estimates provide the financial consequences of inaction and the potential medical savings from obesity prevention efforts that successfully reduce or delay obesity onset."

America's Fattest And Thinnest Cities: Find Out Where Your City Falls
Medical Daily, 4.7.14
With initiatives including the "Campaign to End Obesity" and Michelle Obama’s "Let’s Move!" campaign, the United States has started to make a unified effort to slim down. However, recent data shows it may not be enough. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a poll gauging the nation’s fattest and thinnest cities, has revealed that obesity rates in America’s largest cities continue to reach over 15 percent. "Rising obesity rates have significant health consequences for both individuals and communities of all sizes. Numerous social, environmental, economic, and individual factors may all contribute to physical inactivity and consumption of less healthy foods, two lifestyle behaviors linked to obesity," Healthways Lifestyle Solutions Director Janna Lacatell said in a statement. "In order to combat the trend and encourage individuals to make healthier choices, community-based policy and environmental approaches can, and should, be used."

No real progress on child obesity, latest report says
USA Today, 4.7.14
Reports of significant progress against child obesity in the United States have been premature, say the latest researchers to take a look at the data. Overall child obesity rates are flat, and rates of severe obesity are rising, says a study published Monday by JAMA Pediatrics. And the idea that rates are plunging among preschoolers — heralded in a study and press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just weeks ago — did not stand up when researchers scrutinized a few extra years of data, says lead author Asheley Cockrell Skinner, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Skinner says she and co-author Joseph Skelton, of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, looked at the same data CDC used from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Study: Two Wash. cities on opposite ends of U.S. obesity scale
Seattle Times, 4.9.14
Newly released data bestow a peculiar distinction upon Washington: We’re the only state with cities ranked in the top five and the bottom five in the nation for obesity. Last week, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released its data for 2012 and 2013. The Index is based on surveys with American adults in 189 metro areas on a variety of health issues. Among the findings: Bellingham is one of the nation’s thinnest communities, and Yakima among the most obese. Just 18.7 percent of adults in the Bellingham area reported a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher, which is considered obese. That ranks Bellingham as having the fourth-lowest obesity rate among all metro areas in the study. Surely not a coincidence, the data also show that 60 percent of Bellingham residents get regular exercise — sixth highest in the nation. But head over the mountains to Yakima, and a very different picture emerges.

Paying it Forward: The Role of Health Plans in Preventing and Reducing Childhood Obesity
The Brookings Institute, 3.25.14
According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a staggering number of Americans are obese: 78 million adults (35.7%) and 12.5 million children (16.9 %). However, a recent CDC report also indicated that childhood obesity may be on the decline. For example, over the last decade obesity among 2-5 year olds was reported to have decreased by 43%. However, some researchers believe that this decline may be misleading. And despite broad consensus that childhood obesity may nearly triple healthcare costs for families, most health plans do not cover preventive services, such as nutrition and exercise counseling, or behavioral health management. As a result, there are not many economic incentives in place to encourage provider intervention and reduce this pervasive health problem.

Project to Improve Poor Children’s Intellect Led to Better Health, Data Shows
New York Times, 3.27.14
In 1972, researchers in North Carolina started following two groups of babies from poor families. In the first group, the children were given full-time day care up to age 5 that included most of their daily meals, talking, games and other stimulating activities. The other group, aside from baby formula, got nothing. The scientists were testing whether the special treatment would lead to better cognitive abilities in the long run. Forty-two years later, the researchers found something that they had not expected to see: The group that got care was far healthier, with sharply lower rates of high blood pressure and obesity, and higher levels of so-called good cholesterol. The study, which was published in the journal Science on Thursday, is part of a growing body of scientific evidence that hardship in early childhood has lifelong health implications. But it goes further than outlining the problem, offering evidence that a particular policy might prevent it.

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