Thursday, February 28, 2013

Social studies issue: America's health in regards obesity, diabetes and diet

"Today, one in three adults is considered clinically obese, along with one in five kids, and 24 million Americans are afflicted by type 2 diabetes, often caused by poor diet, with another 79 million people having pre-diabetes," writes author Michael Moss in the NYTimes story, "The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food."

"The public and the food companies have known for decades now that sugary, salty, fatty foods are not good for us in the quantities that we consume them. So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers. What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive."

Locally speaking -

"The fight against obesity in the Shreveport area has started," says "Healthy Green and into the Outdoors kicked off Saturday, and its goal is to get you fit. This comes after an announcement last year from the Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation that detailed an initiative to fight obesity."

"We want people to get healthy," Community Foundation Executive Director Paula Hickman said. "We want them to live environmentally sound practices, and we want them to get up and moving outside."

Her organization and others will promote healthy eating, exercise and green practices locally through several healthy living projects. The most important is the creation of community gardens around Shreveport. Hickman says obesity is an expensive problem in the area.

"Our community has about a 27 percent obesity rate, and that's costing us about $150 million a year," Hickman said.

More than a million dollars has been poured into Shreveport for health projects. Most of that was granted by the Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. Its executive director Christy Reeves says the projects will last for three years.

"There are certain phases for everything. So, over the next three years you're going to see activities like the one that's today," Reeves said. "This is one that is specific to this neighborhood and region, but we'll have a lot of activities across the area over the next three years."