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Good News (but not that good) on Childhood Obesity

July 24, 2009
4:44 pm

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported yesterday that childhood obesity rates have stopped increasing and have essentially leveled off over the past five years.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is that those rates have leveled off at a plateau that is still too high.  As the CDC report points out, childhood obesity remains a serious public health problem in the United States.  One in every seven preschool children from low-income households is obese.  These millions of children are vulnerable to a host of serious health issues.

This is a severely overlooked aspect of health reform.  For all that Congress can do in reforming the health insurance system and finding new mechanisms to control healthcare costs, we can’t forget that chronic disease accounts for 75 cents of every healthcare dollar we spend and much of this spending is directly related to societal challenges such as smoking, obesity and exercise.

The companies and organizations that make up the Healthcare Leadership Council believe that the causes of chronic disease shouldn’t be forgotten in the health reform debate.  In fact, HLC members have called for the federal government, employers and private sector healthcare companies to jointly fund a “national campaign to increase the ability of people to obtain, understand and utilize health information to make appropriate health decisions, complementing ongoing efforts to encourage people to make healthy lifestyle choices.”

The CDC report on childhood obesity reminds us that the effort to achieve a healthier America certainly can’t stop with the passage of health reform legislation.

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