Over the last 20 years, rates for overweight and obesity have increased dramatically in the United States. Obesity has now reached epidemic proportions. CDC reports that two-thirds of noninstitutionalized U.S. adults age 20 and older are overweight or obese; a third are obese.xxvi The epidemic is not limited to adults, however. The percentage of young people who are overweight has more than doubled in the last 20 years. People who are obese are at increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some cancers.
CDC, FDA, and OPHS are the primary HHS operating divisions working to reduce obesity and overweight in the United States, with a focus on improving nutrition and increasing physical activity. CDC will continue to support efforts to address obesity through provision of technical assistance, training, and consultation to funded State programs. CDC and its partners create, evaluate, and monitor programs, policies, and practices to prevent and control obesity. CDC will expand communication efforts to promote physical activity and good nutrition in worksites, schools, and health care settings.
FDA also contributes to obesity control through its food labeling regulations and education programs. For example, Make Your Calories Count, FDA’s Web-based learning program, helps consumers make informed choices that contribute to lifelong healthy eating habits.
The OD physical fitness program, I Can Do It, You Can Do It, targets the obesity and overweight challenges of children and youth through physical exercise based on the awards system of the President’s Committee on Physical Fitness and Sports Program. The program includes a mentee-mentor relationship and an evaluation component.
In addition, Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides science-based advice to promote health and to reduce risk for major chronic diseases and conditions, through diet and physical activity. Major causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States are related to poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, following a diet that does not provide excess calories, according to the recommendations in this document, should enhance the health of most individuals.
As a companion to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, HHS will work over the next 2 years to develop comprehensive guidelines, drawn from science, to help Americans fit physical activity into their lives. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans will be issued in late 2008. The Physical Activity Guidelines will summarize the latest knowledge about activity and health, with depth and flexibility targeting specific population subgroups, such as older adults and children. This work is inspired by the President’s personal dedication to physical fitness and his desire that every American have access to science-based guidelines.
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