Policy advocate: Obesity epidemic 'weighing' down NC economy
Posted May 23, 2012
With more than 90 million Americans battling obesity, it's quickly become health enemy number one.
Obesity raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, and impacts the cost of health care for everyone. According to health policy advocates, North Carolina is in an especially bad position because of an increasing number of overweight citizens.
Meg Malloy, president of the North Carolina Prevention Partners, says the obesity epidemic is a drag on the state's economy. Recent studies show that 66 percent of adults in the state are overweight, making North Carolina the fifth most obese state in the country.
"Both the public employer and private employer has to redirect funds from what their core business work is to take care of unhealthy people," Malloy said.
In an effort to reverse the trend, N.C. Prevention Partners, a nonprofit that aims to reduce preventable illness caused by tobacco use, poor nutrition and physical activity, is pushing for more public health funding.
Malloy says her nonprofit wants healthier food options and more physical education in schools and more incentives for weight loss and exercise in the work place.
Registered dietitian Ashley Honeycutt said changing the lifestyle of people dealing with obesity is the first step in improving the state's health rating.
"There are a million diets out there, but they're a diet," Honeycutt said. "It's something that's temporary."
Honeycutt said changing behavior and tracking portions are two simple ways to jump start weigth loss.
That approach helped Cindy Capps lose 50 pounds in the last nine months.
"I have to look at food in an entirely different way in order for this to be a long-term goal," Capps said. "I want to maintain a good healthy weight for the rest of my life."