Losing the Fight Against Obesity

By Roberta Heale  @robertaheale

Look to any blog, news or health website and you’ll find a story about the world obesity epidemic almost every day from every angle: Financial http://bit.ly/1BVEdNF obesity programs http://bit.ly/1gd0Yi3 health http://bit.ly/1zLs3Y6 & http://huff.to/1zLtcyW & from the fashion and beauty industry etc. etc. etc.  Despite the news, the world is getting fatter and fatter and fatter.  The World Health Organization indicates

·  worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.

·  In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 600 million were obese.

·   39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2014, and 13% were obese.

·   Most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.

·   42 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2013.

From: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/

Most importantly, obesity is preventable.  Think about it.  What other epidemic has affected so many people?

As with all epidemics, nurses are on the front line in the fight against obesity.  Health care education and programs are important steps.  However we aren’t winning this war. Albert Einstein, is credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”  Given this, maybe we need to change our approach.

I just watched the movie The Imitation Game. It portrays the important work of another genius, Alan Turing, who refused to waste his time on the traditional code breaking techniques that were not making any headway in breaking the German code system used in WWll.  Instead he designed the first computer, which cracked the codes that were previously unsolvable.  Maybe we need to change our approach and think in an innovative and strategic manner with the ‘big picture’ in sight.

Advocacy and leadership are among the list of nursing competencies and nurses have been involved in many campaigns for health public policy.  There has been success in reducing smoking rates through strategic policies in some jurisdictions. Perhaps increasing our efforts in advocating for meaningful health policy changes will make a difference in the fight against rising obesity rates.  Success has already been achieved in my province through the implementation of policy removing vending machines with fat-promoting food from high schools.  It’s just a small start, but worth a try in the war against the obesity epidemic.

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