According to presentations from the conference, more than two thirds of American adults--and almost one out of every five American children--are obese or overweight. This is shocking to me. Obesity raises the risk of heart disease, some cancers, and stroke, and is the single biggest predictor of diabetes.
A new report that Sebelius cited in her remarks states that obesity costs our health system as much as $147 billion a year, almost double since the last time the CDC calculated it in 1998.
"To put that figure in perspective," she said, "the American Cancer Society estimates that all cancers combined cost our health care system $93 billion a year. So ending obesity would save our health care system fifty percent more dollars than curing cancer."
This is an epidemic, but it isn't treated as one. We are all responsible--from individuals making smart food choices for themselves and their families, to making cities safer and more walkable and bike-friendly, to educating students about nutrition and making physical education a requirement in schools. That's just off the top of my head.
The War on Obesity doesn't have the same resonance as some of the other health wars we've waged, but it is a war we must win--for our health and for our national wallet.