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Obesity Prevention

The Obesity Problem

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in New York State and across the nation. While many epidemics can be defeated with a pill or a vaccine, obesity requires changes in behavior as well as access to affordable, nutritious foods and opportunities for physical activity in the places where people live, learn, eat, shop, work and play.

Obesity and overweight are currently the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States and may soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of death. Failing to win the battle against obesity will mean premature death and disability for an increasingly large segment of New York residents. Without strong action to reverse the obesity epidemic, for the first time in our history children may face a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Obesity Prevalence

  • The percentage of New York State adults who are overweight or obese increased from 42% in 1997 to 60% in 2008.
  • The percentage of obese adults in New York State more than doubled from 10% in 1997 to 25% in 2008.
  • Obesity among children and adolescents has tripled over the past three decades. Currently, a third of New York's children are obese or overweight.
  • Health care to treat obesity-related illnesses and conditions cost the United States an estimated $150 billion and New York State more than $7.6 billion every year.

Overweight and obesity cause serious health problems, including

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Several forms of cancer
  • Asthma

Increasingly, many of these diseases, previously associated only with adulthood, are also being seen in overweight and obese children. Along with the risks for life-shortening chronic diseases, being overweight in a society that stigmatizes this condition contributes to poor mental health associated with serious shame, self-blame, low self-esteem and depression.