Obesity rates are climbing at an alarming rate in the United States. Recent studies show that by 2030, 50% of adults in the U.S. will be obese, threatening our productivity, national security, and ability to remain competitive in a global economy. Unless federal, state, local and tribal governments come together to make our food and built environments a national priority, Americans will live increasingly unhealthy and sedentary lives—and the U.S. economy will continue down a fiscally unsustainable path burdened by unprecedented health care costs.
With the recent passage of landmark health reform, there is a renewed focus on the health of all Americans. To many, national attention may seem disproportionately focused on insurance coverage and entitlement programs. However prevention and public health are just as crucial to the national dialogue about curbing our long-term health care costs. With nearly $150 billion a year spent on obesity-related medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma, the conversation about prevention must start now.
In March 2011, BPC launched the Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative, chaired by four former cabinet secretaries and charged with bringing together key stakeholders, experts and policymakers to comb the landscape for best practices, model legislation and innovative ideas on how to get people healthier and more active throughout the country. The co-chairs traveled to the University of Miami in April for a forum on nutrition education and, in August, to the Utah Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City to learn more about local barriers to and innovative solutions for providing Utah youth with opportunities to be physically active. In December, we will hold two roundtable discussions on innovative ways to increase physical activity and strengthen health outcomes in early childhood. We look forward to convening national thought leaders who focus on these two issue areas and benefiting from their insights into some of the initiatives our co-chairs have seen first-hand in the field.
The co-chairs will release their policy recommendations in an April 2012 report, focused on decision makers at the federal, state, tribal, local and institutional levels.