Medical Corner: Americans tackling obesity

  • Published
  • By Kellie Jensen
  • Vance fitness program manager
It is the start of a new year, and there appears to be an emphasis on fitness, exercise and nutrition. Initial thoughts are that it must be that time of the year, the time of year when New Year's resolutions are underway, or perhaps already a distant memory.

Looking a little closer it may be Americans are taking a small step forward to combating the nation's obesity epidemic and putting a greater emphasis on health and a need for a lifestyle overhaul.

The YMCA is currently in the process of undergoing a facelift to combat the nation's ongoing lifestyle health crisis by increasing their health-related programming through a program called Activate America. They are retraining staff, redesigning facilities and rethinking activities and programming in an effort to reach out to those who have a hard time sticking to a weight loss or fitness regimen.

The American College of Sports Medicine recently began a new initiative called Exercise is Medicine. The goal of the program is to get physicians to make physical activity a vital sign at every doctor's visit and to encourage doctors to counsel their patients about exercise. The goal of the program is to increase awareness and improve the public's health as well as see a long-term reduction in health care costs.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett challenged his city to adopt a bold New Year's resolution, lose one million pounds in 2008. "This City is Going on a Diet" program was designed by Mayor Cornett to educate the public about the obesity crisis both the nation and Oklahoma faces. Oklahoma City is currently one of the top 10 most obese cities in the United States.

Even Vance is working to combat America's obesity problem. Vance's Biggest Loser competition kicked off on Jan. 7 with 51 teams and 202 participants. Teams of four are working to shed extra pounds by eating healthier, exercising and attending classes to learn how they can lead healthier lifestyles.

American society is in a dangerous place. Americans are heavier than they've ever been. According to the National Institutes of Health, for the first time in the modern era life expectancy for average Americans is threatening to decline. Obesity and its associated health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and cancer are not going to go away over night. Through small steps by organizations and individuals, America can change its lifestyle.