U.S. adult obesity rates have more than doubled since 1980 and today exceed 30%; over the same time period, childhood obesity rates have more than tripled. The AAFP supports policies to reduce obesity rates as a matter of public health.
Family physicians can play an important role in reversing this epidemic. They can provide dietary and exercise counseling and educate patients about the health risks that obesity triggers. They also can serve as advocates for structural reforms such as increasing community safety, building walkways and sidewalks and improving access to healthful foods.
The Academy works with state and federal agencies and other entities to develop sustainable strategies for improving the health of Americans and has taken action in such ways as:·
Obesity represents a major risk factor for a variety of chronic illnesses treated by family physicians, including diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, some cancers, and arthritis. If the number of obese Americans continues to increase at current rates, half of all Americans will be obese this decade, and obesity-related medical expenses will climb past $300 billion — approximately 20 percent of all health care spending.
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