America’s battle with its bulge received potentially good news a week ago when a couple of studies showed the nation’s obesity rate may be leveling off after about 30 years of big gains.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that in 2009-10 the number of obese adults was basically the same as in 2005-06 — about 78 million people. For kids ages birth to 19, the numbers of overweight and obese children also held steady. About 17 percent are obese and one of every three is overweight or obese.
It may not seem like much, but those statistics mark the first time since the early 1980s that the number of overweight or obese Americans — kids and adults — has not increased.
The same day those numbers came out the Sartell-St. Stephen school district became the first Minnesota school district and second in the United States to use NuVal ratings for food served in its cafeteria and vending machines. (If you aren’t familiar with NuVal, it’s a national company that “scores” foods, making it easier for consumers to determine the nutritional value of foods and especially different brands of the same food.)
We highlight these two events — the obesity numbers and the offering of NuVal in a school district — not to specifically promote NuVal. (There are several similar companies nationwide.) However, in reviewing 30 years of rising obesity rates and ever-growing product labels, it’s clear that America needs to find different and more effective tools to help control weight, be it at home, school or local restaurants.
In that context, perhaps scoring systems should be given bigger roles in public places and especially for food provided and served using public money.
Make no mistake. Healthful eating habits must begin at home and be reinforced there daily. But especially for children in a school setting, making it easy to see at a glance what’s best for them seems like a lesson they could use daily and benefit from throughout their lives.
Remember, America has been fighting — and losing — this battle for 30 years. It’s time to try some different approaches.
— St. Cloud Times