How To Solve Our Obesity Crisis | Opinion

How To Solve Our Obesity Crisis | Opinion Two overweight women are seen.

Back in the early 1960s, the U.S. government concluded that smoking caused cancer and was killing millions of Americans. In 1964, the government released the Office of the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health. This engagement in the health of the American people made a massive difference as the percentage of Americans smoking fell from 42 percent in 1964 to 12 percent today.

Obesity is an epidemic that is bigger than smoking. This silent killer destroys millions of American lives each year, but our government continues to sit on the sidelines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42 percent of our population is obese, and it's predicted that by 2030 this number will hit 50 percent. Our elected officials lack the courage to have an adult conversation with the American people about obesity, the real damage it is doing to our country, and what can be done to solve the problem.

When it comes to the American obesity epidemic, here are the facts:

—The average American today weighs 30 pounds more than the average American weighed 60 years ago.

—Seventy-seven percent of Americans do not exercise. In his book, Outlive, Dr. Peter Attia stated, "The data are unambiguous; exercise not only delays actual death but also prevents both cognitive and physical decline, better than any other intervention."

—According to the CDC, in 2019 the estimated medical cost of obesity in the United States was nearly $173 billion.

—According to the CDC, people who are obese are significantly more likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, breathing problems, many types of cancer, mental illness (such as clinical depression), anxiety, and increased body pain—all leading to an overall lower quality of life and early death.

The next president of the United States should launch a bold national campaign to cut the rate of obesity. Here is the simple plan that I would recommend:

—Admit that we have a problem and set a goal to cut obesity from 42 percent to 20 percent by 2034.

—Launch a national campaign to reduce obesity by encouraging Americans to exercise 30 minutes a day and eat ±2,000 calories a day, depending on gender, height, age, and target weight. Put the surgeon general in charge of getting the message out.

—Require basic nutritional information on every food product sold in grocery stores, in restaurants, sporting events, et cetera. Americans need to know what they're eating.

—Tax soda and fast food. In 2017, Philadelphia enacted a soda tax. One year later, a study found that soda sales at major retail stores had fallen by 38 percent. As a society, we impose heavy taxes on unhealthy products like cigarettes and alcohol. We should do the same with fast food.

In 2006, the company I run, Trek Bicycle, implemented a comprehensive health program for our company that included a free baseline health check for every employee once a year, healthier foods in our onsite employee café, and coaching for employees who wanted it. Our focus on health resulted in early detection and allowed us to hold medical costs flat for eight consecutive years.

When we started the program, 22 percent of Trek employees smoked, and our company-wide health score was 772 on a scale of 1,000. As of our Plan Year 2021, our smoking number had decreased to less than 2 percent, while our health score had increased to 901. The overall health of Trek's more than 4,000 employees has significantly improved. With a self-insured health plan, Trek has had only two health insurance price increases in the past 10 years.

I believe the United States government can do the same thing that Trek has done. We can develop a plan to cut obesity in half over the next 10 years and watch our health care costs plummet, while the quality of life in our country will significantly improve for every single American. Let's go!

John P. Burke is CEO of Trek Bicycle. His new book is,A Bold Plan for America.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

Related Articles

Start your unlimited Newsweek trial

  • https://www.msn.com/en-sg/health/other/how-to-solve-our-obesity-crisis-opinion/ar-BB1oDRGe?ocid=00000000

Related

The health benefits of sourdough bread

The health benefits of sourdough bread

Health
Vacuum Sealing Certain Foods Could Make You Sick. Here Are 7 to Avoid

Vacuum Sealing Certain Foods Could Make You Sick. Here Are 7 to Avoid

Health
12 Thesaurus Jokes Grammar Nerds Will Appreciate

12 Thesaurus Jokes Grammar Nerds Will Appreciate

Health
Your alcohol tolerance changes as you age – here’s how to minimise the damage

Your alcohol tolerance changes as you age – here’s how to minimise the damage

Health
Lamar Jackson Sent Home From Ravens Practice on Sunday

Lamar Jackson Sent Home From Ravens Practice on Sunday

Health
Autism can be reversed, scientists discover

Autism can be reversed, scientists discover

Health
'This Mindset Shift Was Key To Finally Building Muscle And Strength'

'This Mindset Shift Was Key To Finally Building Muscle And Strength'

Health