California Observer

Tackling Obesity in California

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Obesity is a worldwide epidemic affecting people from all walks of life. It’s an issue in developing countries as well as those that are developed, and whilst there may be slight variations in obesity rates between different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds, they are marginal.

In the United States, approximately two in every five adults is obese (42.4%),  whilst in California, the obesity rate is lower – around 28.2%. That’s still a frightening number when you consider the impact of obesity.

Impact of Obesity

Obesity exerts a profound impact on both individual health and societal well-being. Medically, it increases the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, leading to a reduced quality of life and decreased life expectancy.

The economic burden is substantial as healthcare costs skyrocket due to obesity-related illnesses. Indeed, California has the highest obesity-related expenditure in the United States, $15.2 billion annually. It strains healthcare systems, diverting resources from other crucial areas. Tackling obesity requires a comprehensive approach, encompassing education, accessible healthcare, and public policies promoting healthier lifestyles to mitigate its multifaceted consequences.

Socially, obesity can foster discrimination and stigma, affecting mental health and self-esteem. Only a handful of areas in California have a prohibition against weight discrimination – San Francisco is one of those. In areas where there are no laws covering discrimination of this type, obesity may cause significant issues.


Combating Obesity in California

Combating obesity in California has two levels – initiatives at a state level and things the individual can do to help themselves. It’s important to realize that fighting obesity really doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution, but it does require input from the individual.

What You Can Do

For an individual, the first step is to acknowledge and initiate change. There might be a trigger point; a health scare, or a moment of clarity when looking in the mirror. What’s important to remember is that you must have the motivation to make the change – there’s no quick fix.

There are some medications that you can try that will certainly help. Medical weight loss, through drugs such as liraglutide and wegovy, can help you get started. They act as an appetite suppressant, which will cut down on the calories going in – you need then to work on the excess you’ve already accumulated.

Of course, the best way to do that is by making changes to your diet and exercising. It is easy to say that when you’re living alone or lacking motivation, finding a support group is important. That’s relatively easy – search for weight loss groups near me, and you’ll be introduced to something local; whether you’re in San Diego, San Francisco, or Selma, there will be a network of people waiting to help.

The benefits of a support group include being able to swap diet plans, help with exercise motivation, and perhaps gain access to public services that also help, of which there are plenty within the California area.

What California is Doing

There are initiatives in California that will help residents fight obesity, and that start with efforts to combat obesity in children. A bill passed in 2017, AB 841, prohibits schools from advertising unhealthy foods on campus during school hours. Childhood obesity often leads to obesity in adults, and this legislature is aimed at cutting the problem off at the roots.

Across the state, there are other initiatives you can discover locally, all of which are likely to be found by a simple internet search. For instance, in the San Fernando Valley, a group of undergraduate students developed a program called 100 Citizens, which was aimed at getting people in the area more active and improving their quality of life.

The Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP) is a community-driven policy that aims to promote safe places for physical activity as well as increase people’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables. They also look to engage young people and support communities both locally and regionally, working to change nutritional knowledge and prevent obesity.

There are too many initiatives, locally and at a state level, to list here, but a simple internet search should help you find something local, whilst the aforementioned support groups will also have knowledge and access.

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