This article was written in collaboration with Logan Shaver, Wellness Coordinator at San Luis Valley Health.

To be prepared for the future, we need to start acting now.

“It’s definitely embarrassing and ridiculous, but obviously something has to be done.” That’s what a friend living in New York City told me in response to Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to limit the sale of sweetened beverages to 16 ounces.

No matter what your thoughts are on how much power a city or state should have in regulating sugar consumption, more work has to be done, both collectively and individually, to address the growing health problems in the United States.

The Numbers Don't Lie

The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just released a study that predicts a dire future for the health of Americans. If obesity rates continue on their current trajectory, 30 states could have adult obesity rates above 50% by 2030. 13 of those states could have rates above 60%. With climbing obesity rates, the report also predicts a ten-fold increase in the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis. This means medical costs for treating preventable obesity-related diseases could reach $66 billion annually (up from $48 billion currently).

Prevention's the Answer... No Matter the Future

Whether or not the obesity rate peaks at 63% or 39%, it’s clear that more prevention is needed.

In the Valley we are fortunate to have so many programs that encourage healthy eating and increased activity. SLV Health’s PRO-Fit program (a series of classes that help participates establish a healthy lifestyle) will be conducting several holiday sessions this winter. More and more local employers are adopting wellness programs, which promote healthy choices by offering reduced rates for health insurance. We also have a strong local foods movement that encourages healthy and conscious eating.

But, we need more than great programs; we need policies that make choosing health easier. We need policies that limit where and how students can purchase soda in schools. We need policies that better recognize that daily physical activity is a necessary component of learning and maintaining health.

These are just two of the issues our elected officials will be grappling with over the next few year. For a healthier future, vote for the candidates that see better health as a state and national priority.

Going Beyond the Vote

A 5% reduction in obesity by 2030 comes down to an average of 10 pounds of weight loss, not an un-surmountable number by any means.  Below are some tips to help you get active and be a part of a necessary change:

  • Start a walking club at lunch
  • Park your car in the furthest part of the parking lot
  • Take your dog for a long walk
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Workout while you watch tv.  Check out Fitbie.comfor ideas to get more active.
  • Learn healthier ways of cooking.  Visit cookinglight.com and eatingwell.com for ideas.

Take action now to stay ahead of the curve.  Give your family an opportunity to live longer and have a healthier life!

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