Community schools are a good start to working to combat obesity, hunger, and poverty in America, but the idea should be expanded further to reach the children who are not attending school and are unemployed, as well as the families without children. Already some programs existóthe Child and Adult Care Food program that provides meals at child-care centers and homeless shelters, for exampleóbut these can be expanded further and enhanced. In order to ensure a better future for ourselves, our children, and our pocketbooks, concrete steps must be taken to promote obesity prevention, and to incentivize healthy decisions (and disincentivize unhealthy ones) for everyone.
Obesity-related disease, much like the cancer found in smokers, is for the most part preventable. Including prevention provisions in any health care laws is key, mainly because it promises to contain costs better than mere treatment of obesity-related ills. A 2008 study found that investing $10 per person in activities that work to improve health and prevent chronic diseases could save the country $16 billion annually.
The Affordable Care Act is a vital piece of legislation that not only addresses these prevention questions but also creates grant programs for schools to establish school-based health centers, which expand the premise of community schools to provide antipoverty programs along with academics to their students.
A third of our nation already suffers from preventable afflictions caused by obesity. As Duke University health professor Eric Finkelstein told The Washington Post, ďThe world has changed in ways that allow people to be that overweight.Ē Itís past time to reverse that trend, especially if we as a society donít want to sink under the weight of obesityís health care costs.
This post was originally published by the Center for American Progress.
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