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Obesity and Role of Government Essay

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Obesity is a critical issue in the United States, and the problem seems to be getting worse in the country and across the planet. As per the latest estimates, about 34 percent of American adults and 15 to 20 percent of American adolescents and children suffer from obesity. Every demographic of the American population is affected by obesity, and the worst thing about the condition is that it enhances the risk of multiple chronic conditions in both adults and children. Considering its spread in the population, obesity is now an epidemic. To address the problem of obesity in the United States, there is a need for public health officials to come up with programs and policies to address obesity. However, as of now, no significant efforts are being made to address the problem. Because of how complex the problem of obesity is, it is probably going to be a very difficult public health problem to solve (Mitchell, Catenacci, Wyatt & Hill, 2012). To reduce obesity, there is a need for the government and relevant authorities and agencies to work together. There is also a need for regulations, policies, laws, and campaigns to trigger social changes that will sustainably reduce the incidence of obesity in the long term (Swinburn, 2008).

What Is Being Done?

The United States federal government reduced the incidence of obesity, one of its top help priorities about ten years ago. The government did this by launching long term programs to turn the tide against obesity as time goes by. Early in the year 2010, the top medical officer in the United States, the Surgeon General, issued a report that touched on obesity. The report was titled Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation. Within the report, the Surgeon General highlighted the growing public health issue of obesity. The report also detailed the causes of obesity and its effects on society. Perhaps the most important part of the report was the recommendations section. The section recommended steps that various parties, including communities, doctors, schools, parents, and ordinary consumers, can take to fight the problem of obesity (AAFP, 2010).

Between 2004 and 2006, a national action plan against obesity was developed by the commonwealth government of Australia. The plan was supposed to provide the roadmap for fighting obesity in Oceania's country. While no significant study has reviewed the success of the action plan, it is fair to note that the implementation has been far from impressive according to various reports. The only part of the report that the government of Australia has implemented is the part that called for television advertisements against obesity. Both federal and state governments have run many advertisements in popular TV stations with viewership across the country. Community-level programs against obesity have also been widely implemented. The community-level programs have shown the better potential of making an impact against the issue of obesity. In New Zealand, community-level programs have also shown an impact on obesity. The New Zealand government also decided to come up with a school food policy that does not promote obesity (Swinburn, 2008). This program has the long term potential of making kids and future adults in New Zealand better eaters and hence to reduce the incidence of obesity in the country.

What is Not Being Addressed?

Many regulations and policy options against obesity around the world rarely get adopted because they face opposition from certain quarters, e.g., the food and beverage industry. For example,…

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There is a demand for a comprehensive law, policy document, or guideline to guide the actions of every party interested in or with a stake in the fight against obesity. Governments usually create policies, but there is a need to involve everyone to ensure that the policy document is comprehensive and has broad consensus. A rule-based approach can help change behavioral attitudes and norms. For instance, a law or policy banning the sale of sugary drinks or junk foods in school canteens such as the one in the United States right now can help schools to start transitioning toward serving healthy foods. Moreover, because only a small percentage of an American child's food intake is in school, there is a need to influence better children's diets at home. This can be done by having campaigns involving famous personalities promoting the eating of healthy foods.


Obesity is an epidemic in America. A significant percentage of both American adults and adolescents are overweight or obese. Many programs have been implemented to try and reduce obesity in the States to no avail. The problem of obesity in the country is now correctly perceived as a crisis and a dangerous one at that (Swinburn, 2008). The federal government and state governments need to act now to stop obesity before the problem becomes worse and begins negatively affecting every part of American life. The best method to deal with the problem is to significantly support research into obesity prevention, especially in children. Governments also need to come up with laws or policy documents to guide their steps and the steps of everyone in the fight against obesity to ensure there are no competing or counter efforts. Community-based programs have proved successful; in terms of…

Sample Source(s) Used


AAFP. (2010). Federal government takes bigger role in combating obesity. Retrieved from

Institute of Medicine. 2007. Progress in preventing childhood obesity: how do we measure up?. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Kumanyaki, S. K., Parker, L., & Sim, L. J. (2010). Bridging the evidence gap in obesity prevention: A framework to inform decision making. Retrieved from

Mitchell, N., Catenacci, V., Wyatt, H., & Hill, J. (2011). Obesity: Overview of an epidemic. Psychiatr Clin North Am, 34(4), 717-732. DOI: 10.1016/j.psc.2011.08.005

Swinburn, B. (2008). Obesity prevention: The role of policies, laws, and regulations. Aust New Zealand Health Policy, 5(12). DOI: 10.1186/1743-8462-5-12

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