Friday, March 22, 2013

Fighting Obesity in South Carolina

By Kinsely Wade
     South Carolina has one of the highest obesity rates in the country. As of 2011, South Carolina’s obesity rate was at 30.8 percent and is projected to be around 63 percent in the year 2030. Each year, it costs the state over one billion dollars due to health care problems that obesity leads to and can cause. Outside of schools, nothing is being done to help obesity problems besides banning the supplement of soda food stamps being taken into deliberation. Public officials should step in and help decrease the rates of obesity in South Carolina.
      Obesity puts a vast economic burden on the state. Taxpayers pay for around $50,000 of the one billion that goes toward obesity expenses. Yvonne Wenger of the Post and Courier reports that obesity “caus[es] diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and other related diseases and ultimately leads to early deaths,” which costs South Carolina money and productivity. Groups and organizations should be formed to help with obesity which could ultimately reduce the amount of tax dollars that people must use for health care.
Currently, health officials are trying to condense the drinking of soda beverages by cutting it out of food stamps. According to Joey Holleman of the Miami Herald, the state of South Carolina has around 875,000 people that receive food stamps, so if they were to cut down on the amount of soda one could receive, the state would make one step in the process of reducing obesity. The only problem with this is that other states have tried and “have failed to gain approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”  Therefore, our public and health officials need to strategize other ways to reduce obesity.

      South Carolina health officials are trying. They have incorporated a better menu along with healthier selections in school cafeterias. But better food won’t help if students are inactive. Statistics from Renee Simeon’s DHEC report "2011 South Carolina Obesity Burden Report" show that in “2011, 29.6 percent of S.C. high school students were overweight or obese” and that “56.6 percent of S.C. high school students were not physically active at least 60 minutes per day on five or more days.”  Most middle schools in South Carolina require their students to take Physical Education (P.E.) all three years they attend. Once they get to high school, students only have to take Physical Education once, or they can even take ROTC or a virtual class in place of their Physical Education credit. Instead of students only having to take Physical Education once throughout their four years of high school, requirement should be changed to where they take it every year to suffice the needed amount of physical activity high school students are getting daily. This would hopefully reduce the 56.6 percent of non-active high school students which could help in the process of reducing obesity. 
      Health officials should also educate about the negative impacts of fast food starting at early ages, such as in elementary school. CBS News reports that nowadays, “children's current levels of fast-food consumption probably are even higher because of an increase in the number of fast-food restaurants and in fast-food marketing.” Some people eat fast food on a regular basis, making home cooked meals not something they value as much. To reduce the amount of fast food people eat, the prices should be raised so people will not spend as much money, therefore getting less food. The average amount of calories someone should intake in a day is 2,000. If someone goes to McDonalds for lunch or afterschool for a snack and gets two McDoubles, a small fry and a sweet tea, the calories in that would be 1,160 calories, which leaves 840 calories for breakfast and dinner. Also, you can get that for a little over four dollars making it cheap. Another way to solve this problem would be to decrease the portions. Altogether the sizes are too big. Also, public officials of South Carolina could also collaborate with healthier states, such as Vermont, Hawaii, and Massachusetts (Brown) to implement some of their plans and programs, which have reduced the impact of fast food. The state could even provide incentives, such as tax breaks for healthier menus or food chains being established.
      In summary, there are a number of ways people, along with the government, can help prevent others from obesity. First, people can begin by being role models for others. If someone goes out with their friends and they are eating well, it is going to grow on the person not eating well and eventually becomes a habit. Families can also supply their refrigerator with healthy food instead of junk food and candy for snack time.
      The government needs to step up and help with the reduction of obesity. First, they need to help pass a bill or plan to give South Carolina work programs or funding to support reduction of weight loss and obesity. They can also enforce schools to implement Physical Education into every year of school. And lastly, they can incorporate and implement programs, plans, and strategies of healthier states and reduce the amount of fast food joints located in South Carolina. We don’t want to be known as the “fat state,” do we? 

For further reading: 
Brown, Maressa. "The 10 Healthiest States in America: Is Yours on the List?." Healthy Living. The Stir, 12  Dec 2012. Web. 28 Jan 2013.            <>.  
"Fast Food Linked To Child Obesity." CBS News., 11 Feb 2009. Web. 1 Feb 2013.  <>. 
"Full Menu Explorer." McDonalds. McDonalds. Web. 28 Jan 2013.  <>.
Holleman, Joey. "S.C. health officials consider food stamp soda ban in obesity battle." The Miami Herald Politics Wires.   The Miami Herald, 01 Feb 2013. Web. 1 Feb 2013.       <>.
"Prevalence of Self-Reported Obesity Among U.S Adults." Obesity Statistics in the United States. National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 Jan 2012. Web. 27 Jan 2013.
Simeon, Renee. "2011 South Carolina Obesity Burden Report." . SCDHEC, n.d. Web. 27 Jan 2013.  < Burden Report 2011.pdf>
Wenger, Yvonne. "S.C. does little to combat obesity." . The Post and Courier, 12 Sep 2010. Web. 28 Jan 2013.


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