The Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance yesterday announced four "targeted recommendations" geared toward bringing discussions about obesity to the forefront of the efforts for healthcare reform. Former U.S. Surgeons General Richard Carmona--who is the Health and Wellness Chairperson for the Alliance--and David Satcher both believe that health promotion, disease prevention and early detection are critical to keeping obesity at bay.
"When we released the surgeon general's call to action to prevent and reduce obesity in 2001, we called obesity an epidemic," Satcher said at a media briefing today. "That was unusual because we usually reserve that word for infectious disease outbreaks. Obesity among children tripled between 1980 and 2000. What we tried to do was sound the alarm about that epidemic."
Carmona echoed those comments, and said that while STOP Obesity is not about generating legislative changes through the federal government, it is about making elected leaders more aware of appropriate measures to curbing obesity--such as prevention and recreation--so when the time comes, they can include such measures in their various legislative strategies. Carmona also said that in order for such efforts to be properly financed, a cultural shift in the nation needs to take place with regards to what he calls our "sick-care system"
"[Our healthcare system] is perversely incentivized," he said. "We pay providers to episodically make people better, and then [those people] often go out and repeat those health behaviors, and then they come back and so on, but we have very little capacity to reward our practitioners to keep people healthy. We really do need a cultural transformation in this nation where every citizen--right up to community and federal government--understands the need, the essential need, of pursuing optimal health and wellness through appropriate prevention strategies.
The alliance recommended that standardized and effective clinical interventions be included in health reform, as well as enhanced use of clinical preventive services to keep track of things such as weight gain. STOP also wants to see more evidence-based community programs and policies created to focus on prevention, as well as more coordinated research efforts, as a whole.
To learn more about the STOP Obesity Alliance's efforts:
- check out this press release