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New Report from RWJF, TFAH Highlights Severity of Obesity Epidemic

WASHINGTON, DC (July 7, 2011) – Lawrence A. Soler, CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) – an organization focused on solving the nation’s childhood obesity crisis – today issued the following statement on F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011, a newly released report from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Trust for America’s Health (TFAH).

“According to the report released today, twelve states now have obesity rates above 30 percent, when just four years ago, only one state was above 30 percent. These numbers show just how difficult it is to solve the obesity epidemic. Under the leadership of Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has helped bring a sense of urgency of solving the childhood obesity crisis, and is working to help teach our nation’s children healthy habits from day one.”

“However, we know that the obesity epidemic cannot be solved by just one entity alone; it will take a combined effort of both the private and public sectors to help solve the crisis. I hope that industry will see this report as a call to action.”

This year’s F as in Fat reported that the obesity epidemic is most severe South, with Mississippi having the highest adult obesity rate for the seventh year in a row. The Northeast and West have lower rates of obesity, with Colorado having the lowest obesity rate, and the only state with an obesity rate under 20 percent.

Specifically, more than two out of three states have obesity rates over 25 percent. In contrast, twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent. The report shows that obesity rates have grown fastest in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee, and slowest in Washington, D.C., Colorado, and Connecticut.

The report also includes four recommendations from TFAH and RWJF on how both the public and private sector can help combat the obesity epidemic, including:

  • Fully funding the Public Health and Prevention Fund: TFAH and RWJF recommend that the fund not be cut, that a significant portion be used for obesity prevention, and that it not be used to offset or justify cuts to other Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) programs.

  • Implementing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act: TFAH and RWJF recommend that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issue a final rule as swiftly as possible regarding school meal regulations and issue strong standards for so called “competitive” food and beverages – those sold outside of school meal programs, through à la carte lines, vending machines and school stores.

  • Implementing the National Physical Activity Plan: TFAH and RWJF recommend full implementation of the policies, programs, and initiatives outlined in the National Physical Activity Plan. This includes a grassroots advocacy effort; a public education program; a national resource center; a policy development and research center; and dissemination of best practices.

Restoring Cuts to Vital Programs: TFAH and RWJF recommend that the $833 million in cuts made in the fiscal year 2011 continuing resolution be restored and that programs to improve nutrition in child care settings and nutrition assistance programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children be fully funded and carried out. If fully funded these programs could have a major impact on reducing obesity.

ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A HEALTHIER AMERICA (PHA) The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. In 2010, PHA was created in conjunction with – but independent from – Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort. PHA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most importantly, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased, third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress our partners are making. For more information about PHA, please visit www.aHealthierAmerica.org and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.