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Health & Nutrition

Respite From Continuous Stream Of Bad News: 40 States Fatter Than California

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Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 3:56 PM

click to enlarge Mississippi on the left; we're on the right.
  • Mississippi on the left; we're on the right.

A new report from from the Trust for America's Health confirms it: We're not as unhealthy as the rest of really unhealthy America. Sure, we're pretty unhealthy, but for now let's take in the good news and celebrate with a Double Down.

California is America's 41st fattest state, sitting in the second tier amongst Utah, Montana and some states in the Northeast. Colorado is the fittest, which is not surprising to anyone with friends from there -- they're always hiking a mountain with a kayak strapped to their back while pregnant. Most of the fat states lost the Civil War.

This data actually matters a great deal to state budget writers, and there's public policies we can enact to improve the situation.

The report notes some stuff the Legislature has done to get a handle on childhood obesity especially:

--We set nutritional standards for school food that's stricter than current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements.

--We have nutritional standards for foods sold in schools on á la carte lines, in vending machines, in school stores, or through bake sales. Meaning, less junk food.

--We're screening kids for obesity.

--We have "Complete Streets" legislation which sought to give some relief to pedestrians and cyclists.

Discouragingly, we're 25th in childhood obesity, with 15 percent of kids obese. Nearly one-quarter of our adults are obese.

Health care comprises a significant share of public budgets, both through Medicaid spending on the poor and blind, and the funding of public employee health benefits. Obese children are at huge risk for Type 2 Diabetes, which is a very expensive chronic disease, so getting Californians healthier could make our tax bills lower, while also reducing significant suffering.

How to do it? Locally, we can develop more walkable neighborhoods and parks so kids can be active. Nationally, we can make healthy food less expensive and unhealthy food more expensive. We could do this by shifting money from subsidies for corn (which is processed into sugar for soda and junk food) to subsidies for getting healthy food in the hands of people who need it.

And that's today's nanny state post.

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