FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday
January 9, 2009
Contact: Jeff Cronin, 202-777-8370, or Stacey Greene, 202-777-8316
Health Experts Urge President-elect Obama
to Take Bold Action to Reverse Obesity Epidemic
Hundreds of Thousands of Lives, Tens
of Billions of Dollars at Stake, Experts Say
WASHINGTON—Bold action is needed to stem
the obesity epidemic, or else today’s children might be the first generation
of Americans ever to lead shorter life spans than their parents. That’s
message delivered today
Barack Obama by 49 of the nation’s most prominent health and medical organizations
and 44 prominent physicians and nutrition experts. The obesity epidemic
is harming Americans’ health just as global warming is harming the planet,
the experts write in a letter to the next President, and requires the coordinated
effort of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Transportation
and other government officials.
is lacking is not well-conceived ideas for policies and programs, but a
national commitment to wage a comprehensive campaign to prevent and reverse
overweight and obesity, a war that should begin in the womb and infancy,
extend to schools, then include workplaces, doctors’ offices, and the
general community,” the letter states.
by the nonprofit
for Science in the Public Interest
the groups pressing President-elect Obama to take vigorous action include
Public Health Association
for America’s Health
signing the letter include George L. Blackburn of Harvard Medical School,
Carlos A. Camargo of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical
School, Kenneth H. Cooper of the Cooper Aerobics Center/Cooper Clinic in
Dallas, Marion Nestle of New York University, and Walter Willett of the
Harvard School of Public Health.
In a confirmation
hearing yesterday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Committee, former Senator Tom Daschle, the Secretary-designate for HHS,
spoke in support of several policies advocated by CSPI and other health
advocates. “We aren’t going to address obesity and prevention and
wellness unless we make better school lunches, and unless we take the junk
food out of schools, and unless we put physical exercise back into the
school curriculum,” Daschle said.
harms caused by obesity are well-known and considerable: hypertension,
heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and many others,”
the letter to President-elect Obama continued. “Together those maladies
contribute each year to as many as several hundred thousand deaths and
tens of billions of dollars in medical and other costs.”
“The numerous possible approaches to reversing
the obesity epidemic are well known, so they’re not itemized in the letter,”
said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, a signatory to the letter.
“What has been missing, particularly by officials in the Bush Administration,
is the commitment to actually tackle the problem.”
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the past three
decades, rates of obesity have roughly doubled in adults and tripled in
children, while almost two-thirds of American adults are overweight or
obese. Obesity costs families, businesses and government about $117
billion each year in health care and related costs.
The Center for Science in the Public
Interest is a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington, DC,
that focuses on nutrition, food safety, and pro-health alcohol policies.
CSPI is supported by the 900,000 U.S. and Canadian subscribers to
its Nutrition Action Healthletter and by foundation grants.