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Monday, July 06, 2009

F Is For Fat

Once again, there is ominous news that underscores the need for a National Nurse to lead prevention efforts. Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) have released the sixth annual edition of the report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2009. The report contains rankings of state obesity rates, reviews federal and state government policies aimed at reducing or preventing obesity, and provides recommendations for addressing obesity within health reform.

Basically, the report finds that in the past year adult obesity rates increased in 23 states while no state saw a decrease. In addition, the percentage of obese and overweight children is at or above 30 percent in 30 states. These statistics definitely present more rationale for establishing a National Nurse to lead prevention. This is because nurses incorporate interventions geared towards wellness into their plan of care and have proven siuccess in delivering health promotion every single day. The trust Americans have in nurses will also be useful as our nation tries to develop strategies to combat this costly epidemic.

“Reversing the childhood obesity epidemic is a critical ingredient for delivering a healthier population and making health reform work,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., RWJF president and CEO. “If we can prevent the current generation of young people from developing the serious and costly chronic conditions related to obesity, we can not only improve health and quality of life, but we can also save billions of dollars and make our health care systems more efficient and sustainable.”

Key recommendations in the report for addressing obesity within health reform are closely aligned with the concept of National Nurse activities for prevention and include:

*Ensuring every adult and child has access to coverage for preventive medical services, including nutrition and obesity counseling and screening for obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes;

*Increasing the number of programs available in communities, schools, and childcare settings that help make nutritious foods more affordable and accessible and provide safe and healthy places for people to engage in physical activity; and

*Reducing Medicare expenditures by promoting proven programs that improve nutrition and increase physical activity among adults ages 55 to 64.

With leadership provided by an Office of the National Nurse, many nurses, including students and retirees, will advocate locally for such programs and services. Many will volunteer to assist with screening and counseling for improved nutrition, or advocate for safer environments to increase physical activity, and support delivery of evidence based interventions in their local communities. Nurses are already positioned in every community and can begin efforts to address the continuing needs.

“Our health care costs have grown along with our waistlines,” said Jeff Levi, Ph.D.,executive director of TFAH. “The obesity epidemic is a big contributor to the skyrocketing health care costs in the United States. How are we going to compete with the rest of the world if our economy and workforce are weighed down by bad health?” Surely having a National Nurse for prevention is a good start and should be a key part of any national strategy.

The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Monday, July 06, 2009  

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