Childhood obesity a growing problem
Here’s something to ponder over your breakfast: Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Obesity among children 6 to 11 years old increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008 — that’s one in five children. The prevalence of obesity among kids 12 to 19 increased from 5 percent to 18.1 percent — again, almost one in five.
Children are eating too much, choosing the wrong things to eat and not exercising enough. They are living sedentary lives, preferring a BlackBerry or Wii to a playground or outdoor activity.
Obese children are more likely to have risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. They are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as poor self-esteem. And here’s the scary part: Obese children are more likely to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore more at risk for adult health problems.
That information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control needs to be a wake-up call to parents, concerned adults and our schools to get serious about this growing problem of overweight children. Children spend seven or more hours a day in school. It seems reasonable that school should be a place to educate youngsters on more than just reading, writing and arithmetic, at least for a part of the day. ...
You think this debate over health care has gotten tough? Wait until overweight children start reaching adulthood. The pressure on our health care system could be overwhelming, especially when combined with the number of baby boomers hitting senior citizen status.
Fixing the problem of obese children is doable, but it will take determination, parental involvement and some hard choices. Billboards, TV commercials and grocery stores push food items that are not necessarily healthy for us. Spurning such options in favor of healthier choices will not be easy. But it’s a matter of life or death.
Kingsport (Tenn.) Times-News on a new tax for the state’s hospitality industry:
Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, and state Rep. Mike Turner, D-Nashville, must need some remedial work in economics. How else to explain their kooky desire to raise taxes in Tennessee during the worst recession in a generation.
Kyle and Turner are targeting the so-called complementary breakfasts offered at many hotels. They propose to tax the lodging businesses for the food that they offer as free breakfasts as part of their room rate. The tax on the food would be assessed at the prevailing sales tax rate in the county involved — up to 9.75 percent.
The Associated Press quotes Reagan Farr, commissioner of the Department of Revenue, as saying he doesn’t believe hotels would pass the tax on to consumers. ...
If Commissioner Farr believes that hotels in Tennessee won’t pass along $10 million in additional costs to lodgers, who does he think will end up paying — the Breakfast Fairy?
Farr also says that a new breakfast tax would bring Tennessee in line with the way other states collect revenue.
“Tennessee is an anomaly among the 50 states,” Farr says. That may well be true. But then, Tennessee is among only a handful of states without an income tax. Does the commissioner favor adding that as well to bring Tennessee into alignment with high-tax states like New York and California?
Winston Churchill observed that “Some regard private enterprise as if it were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look upon it as a cow that they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is — the strong horse that pulls the whole cart.” ...
A new tax on hotels creates a burden that can’t be annihilated by General Assembly fiat, nor will hotels simply absorb it. Instead, this increased cost will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher lodging bills.
Granted, it won’t translate into major increases in room rates. But neither will it give the state a major source of new revenue.
So in a state where tourism is the second largest industry, why do it?
The Tennessean, Nashville, Tenn., on state’s stroke risk:
The bad news continues for Tennesseans struggling with high risk factors on a variety of health issues.
A new national study confirms that Tennessee is entrenched among states with a greater risk for stroke among their populations. Not only is Tennessee in the “Stroke Belt” of mostly Southeastern states that have a 10 percent or greater risk than the rest of the country, but the new study has found that people who have lived in these states all their lives carry a risk of up to 50 percent greater.
And African-American men in Tennessee and other Stroke Belt states are 60 percent less likely to know of their risk and 75 percent less likely to be treated for it, according to the study of 30,000 people published in “Stroke: A Journal of the American Heart Association.”
This undoubtedly comes as alarming news to many Tennesseans, but the findings are not that surprising when you see the similarities between stroke factors and other health indicators.
For example, high blood pressure is the leading factor for stroke, but others include obesity and cigarette smoking. Tennessee is consistently among the worst states for both.
And our state, with its comparatively high percentage of people living near or below the poverty line, struggles to achieve sufficient access to health care for its overall population. That, along with a complex mix of cultural and social issues, appears to elevate the risk for black men. ...
Credit the Tennessee Department of Health, however, for working with the National Institutes of Health’s Stroke Belt Initiative. In Nashville, Chattanooga and Memphis, which account for 70 percent of Tennessee’s African-American population, the state is coordinating projects that target prevention and control of risk factors for stroke and heart disease.
Memphis’ Preventing African-American Stroke Due to Tobacco Use Coalition and Nashville’s Public Health Department work with a handful of African-American churches in their communities to develop smoking-cessation, nutrition and weight-management programs for their congregations.
Such projects are a beginning. Possessing the risk factors for stroke needn’t be the last word; now, let’s get the word out.
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