Preventing Obesity

October 1, 2010 • Volume 20, Issue 34
Do Americans face too many obstacles to healthy eating?
By Barbara Mantel


The nation's high obesity rates prompted President Obama (Getty Images/Alex Wong)
The nation's high obesity rates prompted President Obama to form a special White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity and first lady Michelle Obama to plant a White House vegetable garden and launch the “Let's Move” campaign to end childhood obesity in a generation. (Getty Images/Alex Wong)

The number of obese Americans has increased dramatically over the last 40 years, and in 2001 the nation's surgeon general went so far as to call obesity an epidemic. Since that landmark declaration, efforts to combat obesity have slowly grown, and although no one knows exactly why, the obesity rate among children and adolescents has leveled off. It is still, however, alarmingly high. One-third of children and two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, posing a daunting public-health challenge. Those adults are more likely to develop serious illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. While diet programs emphasize personal responsibility, public-health experts blame a multitude of factors — many beyond individuals' control — for the societywide epidemic. Prominent among those factors are low consumption of fruits and vegetables and America's “obesogenic” environment, which promotes increased portion size, non-healthful foods and physical inactivity.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Nutrition and Health
Jul. 07, 2017  Hunger in America
Oct. 30, 2015  Dietary Supplements
Aug. 08, 2014  Global Hunger
Oct. 01, 2010  Preventing Obesity
Apr. 07, 2006  Rising Health Costs
Feb. 10, 2006  Eating Disorders Updated
Sep. 03, 2004  Dietary Supplements
Jan. 31, 2003  Obesity Epidemic
Feb. 23, 2001  Diet and Health
Jan. 15, 1999  Obesity and Health
Sep. 26, 1997  Youth Fitness
Apr. 14, 1995  Dieting and Health
Jul. 08, 1994  Dietary Supplements
Dec. 18, 1992  Eating Disorders
Nov. 06, 1992  Physical Fitness
Jul. 31, 1992  Infant Mortality
Oct. 25, 1991  World Hunger
Mar. 16, 1990  Public-Health Campaigns: Do They Go Too Far?
Apr. 29, 1988  How America Eats
Sep. 06, 1985  Anorexia and Other Eating Disorders
May 18, 1984  Dining in America
Aug. 26, 1983  Staying Healthy
Nov. 19, 1982  Weight Control: A National Obsession
Oct. 17, 1980  Caffeine Controversy
Apr. 14, 1978  Physical Fitness Boom
Jun. 17, 1977  Obesity and Health
Feb. 22, 1974  Heart Research
Aug. 01, 1973  Nutrition in America
Dec. 02, 1970  Infant Health
Nov. 15, 1967  Overweight and Health
Aug. 10, 1966  Dental Health
Jul. 13, 1966  Prolongation of Life
May 09, 1962  Outdoor Recreation
Nov. 26, 1958  Dieting and Health
Jul. 13, 1949  Recreation for Millions
May 13, 1941  Nutrition and National Health
Obesity and Weight Control