Monday, October 31, 2016
Today, about half of all American adults—117 million people—have one or more preventable chronic conditions, many of which are related to poor eating patterns and lack of physical activity. Rates of obesity-related diseases continue to rise. In fact, more than a third of the adult population in the United States is overweight or obese, and these rates are continuing to rise.
Progress in reversing these trends will require comprehensive and coordinated evidence-based strategies at multiple levels and across multiple sectors. To that end, we have some good news to report. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends screening all adults for obesity, and the Affordable Care Act requires, most health plans to cover obesity screening and counseling for adults in accordance with this recommendation, without charging a co-pay or other cost sharing. Additionally, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines and the upcoming new U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines can help health care providers give Americans the goals they need to make healthy decisions about diet and physical activity. Both are key to preventing obesity and those chronic diseases that are often linked with obesity, like diabetes and heart disease.
In order to address the challenges associated with obesity, we must address the full range of factors that influence a person’s overall health and well-being. From education to safe environments, housing to transportation, economic development to healthy foods—the social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, live, work, and age. Our concept of ‘Public Health 3.0’ recognizes that we need to focus on the social determinants of health in order to create lasting improvements for the health of all Americans. Public health is what we do together as a society to ensure the conditions in which everyone can be healthy.
As part of National Obesity Care Week , I encourage all health care providers to commit to treating obesity compassionately and comprehensively and to expand the dialogue about the range of factors from genetics to the social determinants of health that affect this highly complex condition. I am pleased to join more than 29 U.S. health organizations, healthcare professionals, patients and leaders in support of National Obesity Care Week, and in advocating “Change the Way We Care” for all individuals affected by obesity.