This week the Center For Disease Control and Prevention is holding a three-day conference in Washington, D.C. to tackle the problem of obesity. The CDC has recently published several reports on the issues of obesity and also released a set of recommendations for how communitires can implement programs and policies to help combat the problem of obesity.

Obesity continues to be a huge problem facing the United States. It is a major risk factor for deadly conditions like heart disease and diabetes, which cause Americans to spend billions of dollars on health care each year. The CDC recently found that the proportion of obese U.S. adults rose again last year to 26.1 percent. They have shown that obesity is a big problem that continues to grow and now that are trying to answer the question about what should be done about it.

The three-day conference they are hosting is called “Weight of the Nation.” Their is much chatter surrounding the conference about whether the federal government can tackle the issues of weight gain and obesity without intruding into Americans’ personal lives by intruding into their kitchens, restaurants, and stores. While there have been several local bans on trans fats in restaurants, many argue that these and other measures are limiting personal choice.

Many, like Texas state Senator Kel Seliger opposed state bans on trans fat but still support provisions to provide healthier foods in public schools along with proper dietary education. While he supports education he believes the government should stay away from restriciting food content. Like many other public officials, he would rather inform the public than coerce them into living a healthy lifestyle.

This week Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the CDC conference that reducing obesity rates is at the heart of the president’s health care plan. This is after the CDC reported and increase in the health cost of obesity, which is now up to $147 billion annually. Both Sebelius and former president Bill Clinton argued that reducing obesity would lower health care costs dramatically.

Among all this the turn of the conference and speakers turned to prevention of obesity. The new recommendations from the CDC focus on making healthy foods more available and promoting physical activity. Additionally the recommendations call for the restriction of unhealthy foods and beverages in public venues, a point that is in contention with many.  Discussion over other “fat tax” measures continued but would face trouble when being made into law.

However, all involved recognize the problem and the need for solutions.  The Trust for America’s Health declared in a report this month that America’s current obesity policies are “failing,” citing no decrease in adult obesity in the last year.

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