What is Obesity?
Obesity means an amount of body fat that exceeds the level generally considered healthy for a particular height. Obesity is one of the biggest health concerns in communities across the country, with about 70 percent of county officials ranking it as a leading problem where they live. Factors related to obesity are also rated as communities’ priority health issues, including nutrition and physical activity at 58 percent, heart disease and hypertension at 57 percent and diabetes at 44 percent. More than 70% of American adults are obese or overweight. According to the County Health Rankings 2018 report, Hamilton County has an obesity rate of 28.9% which is slightly higher than the national rate of 28 %.
Why does it Matter?
The Cost of Obesity: The obesity crisis costs our nation more than $150 billion in healthcare costs annually and billions of dollars more in lost productivity.
Obesity is a National Security Issue: Being overweight or obese is the leading cause of medical disqualifications, with nearly one-quarter of service applicants rejected for exceeding the weight or body fat standards. Obese service members and members of their family who are obese cost the military about $1 billion every year in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Obesity is a community safety issue: With millions of obese and overweight Americans serving as first responders,
firefighters, police officers and in other essential community service and protection roles, public safety is at risk. Seventy percent of firefighters are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for cardiovascular events — the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths. Police officers have a shorter life expectancy compared with the general population, likely due to their higher-than-average obesity rates.
Obesity is a child development and academic achievement issue: Obesity prevention is an investment in our children’s ability to learn and grow. Childhood obesity is correlated with poor educational performance and increased risk for bullying and depression. If all kids have the opportunity to grow up at a healthy weight — a lifestyle that includes nutritious food and plenty of time for active play — they are more likely to reach their full potential.
Obesity is an equity issue: Obesity disproportionately affects low-income and rural communities as well as certain racial and ethnic groups, including Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans. Societal inequities contribute to these disparities. For example, in many communities, children have few safe outdoor spaces to play or accessible routes to walk or bike to school. Their neighborhoods may often be food deserts, having small food outlets and fast-food restaurants that sell and advertise unhealthy food and beverages, but lacking those with fresh and healthy foods at affordable prices. Thus, addressing the obesity epidemic is also a fight for health equity.
Sources: The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America Report by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health.