Fighting Obesity as a Community

In recent months, our nation has placed increasing emphasis on slowing the spread of the obesity epidemic. From a proposed large soda ban in New York City to changes in the ways that huge companies like Disney market food, the reality of obesity’s dangers has forced us to take another look at how to get the weight of our nation under control. Growing awareness is beginning to produce results in the form of policy changes and direct attempts to make our lifestyles healthier.

However, it will take a great deal more effort to finally loosen the strong grip that obesity has on so many Americans. As a patient of medical weight loss, you’ve made a big step in becoming healthier, but many others may not be so fortunate. Ending the spread of obesity will require a paradigm shift—changes in the behaviors of all individuals and the environmental, social and economic factors that contribute to our growing waistlines.

With summertime upon us, it’s time to get outdoors and stay active, but it’s also time to start thinking about how you can help to make your community a healthier place to live. By implementing changes in our communities, we can help every individual develop a more active and healthier lifestyle.

 

Tackling Obesity Together

Though it may seem impossible to coordinate and entire community around building a healthier lifestyle, we can draw inspiration from communities in France that managed to do just that. Beginning in 2000, several small towns launched a community-based effort to prevent childhood obesity, involving every member in encouraging children to make healthier food choices and become more active. The mayors, business owners, doctors, scientists, teachers, pharmacists, sports associations, government branches and the media all became heavily involved. They built playgrounds and sporting facilities, mapped out walking routes and hired sports instructors. They organized cooking classes for families and offered counseling for those at risk.

By 2005, only 8.8 percent of the children in these communities were overweight, while the figure had risen to 17.8 percent in the towns around them who had not taken such steps. After seeing the remarkable results, the effort has been expanded to 200 more towns across Europe in a network called EPODE, an acronym of the French words for “Together, let’s prevent obesity in children”.

Though only time will tell if EPODE’s methods are effective for these other towns, their preventative methods can be summarized into these basic points:

As you get outside this summer and stay active, think about ways that your community could be improved to help everyone become more active, especially children. By creating new parks, walking paths and playgrounds, we can encourage all members of our society to become healthier. Making these community changes and improving education about how to live and eat healthy are the only ways to make significant headway in the fight against obesity.

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