The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says obesity rates among adults have increased by 50 percent over the last three decades, while childhood obesity rates have tripled.
Donald Gates, program coordinator with Pima County Health Department, says the community as a whole bears the cost of the obesity. In Pima County alone, annual spending on obesity-related health care costs is estimated at $500 million, says Gates.
“Obesity is the single greatest public health risk that we will face in the coming decades,” he says.
Communities Putting Prevention to Work is a two-year program, administered by the Pima County Health department designed to curb obesity rates among area residents. More than $15 million was spent to help communities make healthier lifestyle choices, says Gates.
The CPPW grant promoted collaborative partnerships with community-based organizations that ultimately seek to bring down the cost of treating obesity-related ailments.
Gates draws attention to reports that indicate 75 percent of all health care costs are due to chronic conditions including obesity and related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
He says the CPPW grant hopes to reverse a obesity problem that, if left unchecked would make “this the first generation of children to have a shorter life-expectancy than their parents.”