A recent study shows inactivity is on the rise, not just in the U.S., but around the globe. According to the study published in The Lancet, about a third of the world’s adults are almost completely sedentary, that is, they do not meet the minimum recommendation of 150 minutes of walking or other moderate activity per week, or about 20 minutes a day. Teenagers are worse: More than 80 percent of young people ages 13 to 15 worldwide are not getting the hour a day of vigorous exercise recommended for their age group. Although most prevalent in the U.S. and Europe, this phenomenon is on the rise worldwide.
A separate study, also published in The Lancet, calculated how much disease results from inactivity, and how many lives could be saved if inactivity were decreased, that is, if people exercised more. The authors calculated that about 5.3 million people a year die from diseases tied to physical inactivity — more than the 5.1 million who die annually from smoking.
Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health and State Health Officer, will visit the University of Georgia on Tuesday, July 31 to provide an update on adult and child obesity in Georgia, and current local and state initiatives to address the epidemic. Her presentation, “A State Perspective on Obesity,” will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. in Room 175 of the Paul D. Coverdell Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences.
Dr. Fitzgerald, a board-certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist and a Fellow in Anti-Aging Medicine, has practiced medicine for three decades. As Commissioner, Dr. Fitzgerald oversees various state public health programs including Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Emergency Medical Services, Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care, the Office of Health Equity, Vital Records and the State Public Health Laboratory. Dr. Fitzgerald also directs the state’s 18 public health districts and 159 county health departments. Prior to joining DPH, Dr. Fitzgerald held numerous leadership positions.
We know that obesity is a public health crisis in the U.S., and that it has already increased to alarming rates among all populations. Moreover, we’re paying the price in increased health-care costs. But it’s projected to get worse — unless programs and policies are implemented to change the course.
A paper published in Nature in 2008 projects what will happen if current trends continue:
- By 2030, 86.3% of adults will be overweight or obese, and 51.1% will be obese. Black women and Mexican-American men would be the most affected.
- By 2048, all American adults will become overweight or obese, while black women will reach that state by 2034. The rate of obese children, now at 30%, would double by 2030.
- And health-care costs attributable to overweight would double every decade, accounting for 16-18% of total U.S. health-care costs.
Zoe Young, a graduate student supported by the UGA Obesity Initiative, just submitted a grant to the Tanita Healthy Weight Community Trust. The aim is to reduce weight in children and adults with intellectual disabilities using dance and healthy eating. Zoe is a dance instructor who is also a doctoral student in Exercise Science. Zoe will partner with Kevin McCully, her advisor, and Laura Whitacker who is the director of Extra Special People. Nice job Zoe!
Phillip L. Williams, dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia, writes in the June 26 Atlanta Journal Constitution that obesity costs Georgia employers thousands of dollars in health care and the state more than $2 billion yearly. If preventive efforts are not taken, he says, we can expect that number to grow to $11 billion by 2018. All of these troubling statistics point to a looming fiscal and medical crisis for Georgia.
All is not doom and gloom, however. Williams says that not only are the state and UGA tackling the issue, but there are things that individuals can do, too: take more personal responsibility when it comes to managing our weight, and create the environment that will help curtail obesity. Read more.
Body weight support walking with student help
We just submitted a research grant to the National Institutes of Health to set up a community partnership to reduce obesity in people with disabilities. A very exciting proposal, we would add physical activity and healthy eating to sports and recreational activities for people with disabilities. Students get a better education and the participants get the extra help and encouragement they need. We have started collecting pilot data!
Optimism on obesity?
Many of us know the basics of the problem: Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Georgia has the second-highest childhood obesity rate in the nation. The associated health care costs are staggering, and they’re on the rise.
It all sounds much more alarming than encouraging.
But Dr. William Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the CDC, told an Atlanta audience Wednesday that he sees hopeful trends on the issue, including in Georgia.
Read more from Georgia Health News.
So, we need a name for our effort to combine sports and recreation programs with a wellness program involving exercise and eating right. Why include exercise in sports? Well, have you watched any baseball lately? How much in the way of exercise does a left fielder get in a typical practice? Our choice of a name is: AIRS (Athens Inclusive Recreation & Sports).
In an effort to better connect the many resources around the state working to combat obesity in Georgia, Governor Nathan deal this month launched Georgia SHAPE, a statewide program promoting exercise and better nutritional options.
The new program merges efforts from governmental, philanthropic and academic and business communities.
“This affects all of us,” Deal said. “We must work together to improve the health of children in our state. Some suggest that we’re raising the first generation of American kids to have shorter life expectancy then their parents because of problems related to obesity. We can and will do better to promote healthy lifestyles.”
The initiative’s website includes a SHAPE program locator, where visitors can find fitness programs and farmers’ markets by ZIP code. It also includes resources for students, families and schools. Additional strategies to combat childhood obesity are planned and include promoting breastfeeding, increasing physical activity and providing better nutritional options for students.