Obesity, a national epidemic, has now been classified as a disease by the American Medical Association. This recognizes the critical role that obesity plays in many other serious health conditions, several of which are also the leading causes of preventable deaths—these include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Nationwide, more than one-third of adults and almost 17 percent of youth were obese in 2009–2010, according to the most recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In Arkansas, 31 percent of adults were obese according to the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. ACHI’s annual BMI assessment reports show that 21 percent of public-school children (grades K–10) were obese in 2012.
The costs of obesity are borne not only in terms of impaired health but also in terms of economic impact. A 2009 article in Health Affairs (see link below) presents research projecting the medical costs of obesity to be $147 billion per year as of 2008.
Because problems with weight often begin in childhood, ACHI has committed significant efforts to define and plan solutions to combat the obesity epidemic plaguing Arkansas’s youth. The health of Arkansas children and the prevention of childhood obesity continue to be a focus of many of ACHI’s collaborative projects and partnerships.
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