2012-08-23 / News

Tackling obesity in area and U.S.

MANISTIQUE – Obesity is a very serious and costly health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are many health problems associated with obesity including coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, various types of cancers, and hypertension. In 2008, Michigan had the 8th highest rate of obesity in the United States. At that time, 65.3 percent of Michigan adults were classified as overweight or obese. More alarming is that Michigan youth are becoming increasingly obese. A 2009 Michigan Department of Community Health report showed that in 2009, 28.9 percent of Michigan youth in grades nine through 12 were either overweight or obese.

Direct costs associated with obesity, such as prescription drugs, emergency room visits, and other outpatient visits cost the U.S. $14.1 billion annually. According to research by John Cawley, associate professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, inpatient hospital stays for obesity related health problems cost the U.S. another $237.6 million annually. Obesity has also been associated with delayed skill acquisition in children as young as two to three years old and with lower wages for employees, especially white females. Cawley also found employee absenteeism related to obesity is estimated to cost the U.S. $4.3 billion annually.

Locally, the Sault Ste. Marie

Tribe of Chippewa Indians, through their Strategic Alliance for Health program has been working hard to help reduce obesity. They have pulled together a local coalition made up that is focusing, in part, on healthy eating and increasing physical activity. This group has been responsible for or contributed to many positive changes, including creation of a local farmer’s market, obtaining a grant to improve safe walking routes to school, and the creation of a program called “Walk Manistique”. This program will promote opportunities for walking in the area and will incorporate area attractions such as the boardwalk.

LMAS District Health Department urges residents to take advantage of these new opportunities. Even subtle changes like eating one healthy meal a week or taking a brisk walk in the evening will be a step in the right direction that could lead to more positive changes. Ultimately, each individual has control over weight loss. To reduce obesity in the U.S. we all will have to work very hard at making the healthy choice the default choice.

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Editor’s note: Check U.P. is a new monthly column featuring doctors and staff from Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital and the Luce, Mackinac, Alger, Schoolcraft Health Department. The column will focus on health topics important in the area and nation. This week’s column features Nick Derusha, health officer at LMAS.

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