Obesity has been on the rise since the late 1980’s. Today, approximately 65% of Americans are overweight, and over 30% of Americans are obese. The number of overweight children has also doubled. “According to some estimates, obesity results in thousands of deaths a year and accounts for $117 billion in U.S. health care expenses annually.”1
In an effort to combat the growing rate of obesity in the U.S., the FDA recently released the Keystone Report. In a world in which all of our portions are “super-sized,” the Keystone Report offers some solutions for controlling caloric intake, especially when eating outside the home. “Americans spend approximately 46 percent of their food budget on food prepared away from home and take in 32 percent of their calories from such foods.”1
The Keystone Report offers recommendations about how to change consumers eating behaviors. Specifically, the Report suggests increasing the marketing of lower calorie foods like fruits and vegetables and providing consumers with nutritional information. Although there has been an increase in the amount of nutritional information available to consumers, more improvements are possible. Most dining establishments still do not provide such nutritional information.
I agree that the FDA and other government agencies should continue to educate the public about health and dietary issues. However, because obesity rates are still on the rise, perhaps the government should also try to promote the benefits of eating more balanced meals at home. We will not see substantial improvements in the obesity rates until more education comes from within the home. Parents have to education themselves and their children about the benefits of eating healthy and exercising. Children sitting in front of the television hearing about exercising and eating more fruits and vegetables are not going to make any changes on their own. Unless parents talk to their children and lead by example, government initiatives will not make the improvements that they could.