Interagency Approach to Public Health

This is a little off beat, but what the heck – it is nearing the end of summer and news is slow. 

J0409476 In reviewing the news, one sees that another study has demonstrated that Americans are fat.  With as much travel as I do, I don’t need a study to tell me that.  I walk through enough airports and I have eyes – I can see.  America is overweight.  A lot. 

So why is that?  Why is our collective weight increasing?  (I am going to make no reference here to my own.)  I mean it also would seem, anecdotally, that there are also more gym memberships out there than ever before.  Any why is it that Colorado is the skinniest state?  Why is poverty so closely linked with obesity?  At least two out of three of these questions are counterintuitive.

The FDA does its part, trying to manage better labeling so that people can make more informed decisions.  HHS has made some splashes in this space from time to time.  The CDC is working hard at raising awareness of diabetes.  Presumably federal food programs are encouraging better nutrition.  The food pyramid has been replaced by something new to guide consumers.  What gives?

Well, since I have done a fair amount of strategic planning in my time, my suggestion is that there needs to be an inter-agency approach to the problem of obesity in this country if we are going to turn the rising tide of fat.   It seems that all of the agencies are working to do their respective jobs, but everyone is working with their hand only on one part of the "elephant" so to speak.  An inter-agency approach (and budget) should be devised that would look at the problem in its totality and research methodologies into solving it. 

Who is getting fat, and who do they listen to?  What current government policies actually are inhibiting progress – from labeling to food stamp coverage?  What would actually encourage greater fitness besides dire health warnings? 

It would be an investment to undertake such a broad range assessment and plan.  But considering the increasing costs to the healthcare system of the rising rate of obesity in the U.S., to not engage in some sort of inter-agency task force, perhaps led by FDA, would be penny-wise and "pound" foolish….

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that. 

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One Response to Interagency Approach to Public Health

  1. Emily DeVoto says:

    How about the Healthy People 2010 effort, and that of former Secretary Thompson? Even CDC? I don’t have an opinion of either one way or the other, but they do represent at least trans-HHS approaches to obesity.
    Excellent blog; I’m glad I found it, and looking into digging in further. Mine, cited above, is brand new; we cover related topics so you may want to check it out!
    Cheers.