Question of the Week

July 14, 2003


Some states are getting money from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help fight obesity. Their plan:

"In October 2000, the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity initiated a program to support state health departments and their partners in developing and implementing targeted nutrition and physical activity interventions in an effort to prevent chronic diseases, especially obesity. States were encouraged to use a social marketing approach in designing their population-based strategies, particularly policy-level and environmental interventions."

Do you know if your state is one to have received money over the years? How would you know? What does all that mean for the people living in the states that have been chosen to participate in the "CDC's State-based Nutrition and Physical Activity Program to Prevent Chronic Diseases, Including Obesity"?

Currently, more government money is being designated to help prevent some of the health problems that can result from obesity. If nothing else, a lot of time and money has gone into the discussion of the problem.

"HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today called on Americans to take the steps that will lead to a healthier nation at a first of its kind national health summit he convened in Baltimore. The two-day summit, "Steps to a HealthierUS: Putting Prevention First," is being attended by a thousand community leaders, policy makers, health officials and others. Focusing attention on the importance of prevention and promising approaches for promoting healthy environments, the Secretary laid out his priorities and programs for Steps to a HealthierUS, a department-wide effort in support of the President's HealthierUS initiative. In the United States today, 7 of 10 deaths and the vast majority of serious illness, disability and health care costs are caused by chronic diseases. Underlying these serious diseases are several important risk factors -- poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, and tobacco use and exposure -- that can be modified years before they contribute to illness and death."

With as much time and attention as the government agencies are spending discussing these health issues, it is apparent that they are seen as a concern. What are the main concerns? And how much money are they taking from the budget to fund such programs?

"'I am convinced that preventing disease by promoting better health is a smart policy choice for our future,' Secretary Thompson said. 'Our current health care system is not structured to deal with the escalating costs of treating diseases that are largely preventable through changes in our lifestyle choices.'...At today's summit, Secretary Thompson announced a $15 million "Healthy Communities" initiative as part of the Steps initiative. The funds will support programs that improve the lives of Americans through innovative and effective community-based chronic disease prevention and control programs addressing diabetes, obesity and asthma....President Bush's fiscal year 2004 budget substantially increases the investment in the Steps initiative to a total of $125 million, a $110 million increase from the fiscal year 2003 appropriation for the HHS-wide endeavor to promote healthier lifestyles."

I am not suggesting that the government spend more. I am not suggesting that they should spend less. I do want to point out how much the American people are spending, even without including the tax dollars that are now being sent to help address health related concerns...

"According to a recent study just completed by Tampa-based Marketdata Enterprises, the only market researcher to track the weight loss products/services market on an ongoing basis since 1989, body-conscious Americans will spend nearly $40 billion this year to lose weight. They also predict that the weight loss industry in the U.S. will grow 5.6 percent annually to $48.8 billion in 2006....Diet soft drinks dominate in terms of sales, with an expected $14.86 billion this year (up from $14.4 billion in 2001). Health clubs rank second, with $13.52 [b]illion in 2002 sales, up $1 billion from last year. Diet books, cassettes and exercise videos trail commercial weight loss centers, with the most rapid growth being in do-it-yourself, over-the-counter diet aids....In 2002, the commercial weight loss centers category represented 1.2 billion of the $39 billion industry pie. Source: October 2002 report from Marketdata Enterprises."

What amount of money will it take? Where will that money come from? More importantly...

Questions of the Week:
What would you do with the funds if you had control over what programs got government money to deal with primarily preventable health related issues? What is the most you could do to help improve the overall health of the nation with the least amount of money? What changes need to be made that "money can't buy"?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

[email protected]
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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