Access to healthy food or safe places to be active is inconsistent across communities and research shows that socioeconomic factors including poverty and race/ethnicity contribute to an increased rate of obesity. The State of Obesity 2020 report provides evidence-based policy recommendations for addressing the obesity crisis using a multi-sector, multi-disciplinary approach, and focuses on those population groups that are disproportionately affected. Reducing obesity-related disparities starts with steps towards health equity, as outlined by these helpful recommendations from Trust for America’s Health.
If you’ve read our blog before, you’ve likely seen us highlight the many ways the retail environment influences tobacco prevalence. Interestingly, many of these same general concepts also apply to the food environment, with research pointing to how the places we live, work, and play contribute to our risk of obesity. The fact that access to healthy food or safe places to be active is inconsistent across communities means that education alone won’t be enough to reduce the burden of obesity in the United States.
This is why we are excited to read about the work of Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) to provide evidence-based policy recommendations for addressing the obesity crisis. Not only do these recommendations focus on the need for a multi-sector, multi-disciplinary approach, but they also focus on those population groups that are disproportionately impacted by the obesity crisis. For example, data from The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) illustrate that socioeconomic factors including poverty and race/ethnicity (see chart below) contribute to an increased rate of obesity. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to only exacerbate these existing health disparities.
We’ve listed an overview of TFAH’s recommendations below, but we encourage you to check out the full The State of Obesity 2020 report for the actionable steps for accomplishing these goals at both the federal and state/local level.
- Increase health equity by strategically dedicating federal resources to efforts that reduce obesity-related disparities.
- Decrease food insecurity while improving nutritional quality of available foods.
- Change the marketing and pricing strategies that lead to health disparities.
- Make physical activity and the built environment safer and more accessible for all.
- Work with the healthcare system to close disparities and gaps in clinic-to-community settings.