Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Prevention and Public Health Fund Strives to Reduce Obesity and Improve Health Nationwide

Although each region of the United States has shown a rise in obesity rates over the past decade, none so much as the South. Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, and Louisiana suffer from disproportionately high rates of obesity among adults and children alike.

Now, as part of the Affordable Care Act, $10 billion has been allocated for the Prevention and Public Health Fund which focuses on widespread community health efforts based on prevention rather than simply disease management.

The first of such efforts, discussed in The New York Times, details the work of Michael Bailey (dubbed something of a nutritional missionary), who offers education and support on an individual level. He works within his community - the poorest zip code in Oklahoma - to help drive those around him towards healthier habits.

Though many are skeptical of government interventions, this more personalized level of preventative service seems to be off to a good start.

With almost 10% of US medical costs tied to obesity, public health initiatives with a focus on prevention seem like a reasonable way to help bring those escalating costs under control.

Like smoking, obesity rates will not plummet overnight. It will take years of government oversight, education, awareness, and behavior change models to improve the weight of the nation, but it’s not impossible. Programs like this one in Oklahoma suggest that with proper funding and guidance, health changes can be made individually that reflect positively on the country as a whole.

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