September 20, 2014

Fighting obesity is huge challenge

A new report shows more than half of Wisconsin adults will be obese by 2030, unless we do something.

The expanding obesity rate could lead to huge health problems and hefty health care bills. Amy Meinen is state nutrition coordinator for the Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity program at Wisconsin Department of Health Services. She says a lot is already being done to address the issue; parents, businesses, schools, communities all need to work together to get a handle on it. “We’re all working together at the moment to create healthier places where we live, work, learn, and play so individuals can make healthy choices. We feel strongly about sticking to this plan of working together across the state so that we won’t reach 56 percent in 2030.”

Farm to School is already working. It involves incorporating locally-grown foods into school meals and snacks. Many schools are taking that one step further, Meinen says, by adding gardening and nutrition education.

Jon Morgan is state physical activity coordinator for the Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity program at DHS. He says joint-use agreements in communities and work places make it easier to get physical activity and better nutrition. Active Schools encourages one hour of physical activity per day from things like walking or biking to school and active recess. “Based on the recommendation, which would be for them to get at least 60 minutes a day, and if you look at the numbers for Wisconsin, there’s probably a little bit over half of the students who are getting that amount.”

Students in Mukwonago aren’t happy with the new dietary standards for school lunches. Monday, 70 percent of the students boycotted their cafeteria meals. Meinen says that’s a great conversation starter; the obesity problem didn’t happen overnight, and it can’t be fixed overnight.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health put out the report Tuesday morning. F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012 says obesity is a contributing factor is Type-two diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.  Wisconsinites would save almost $12 billion by reducing their weight by 5 percent. The report shows almost 28 percent of Wisconsin adults are currently obese.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:49