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A: More than 23 million US children and teens – nearly one in three young people – are either overweight or obese, placing them at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other serious health conditions.
A: Reversing the childhood obesity epidemic is more than just one issue among many—it’s a critical strategy for protecting the viability of our health care system. Among experts, there’s universal agreement that health care should focus more on prevention—not just treatment—and obesity prevention is one of the best investments we can make. That’s because obese children are more likely than their healthy-weight peers to become obese adults, and as a result, they’re far more likely to suffer from a variety of serious and costly chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If we can prevent the current generation of young people from developing these conditions in the first place, we can save countless lives and billions of dollars, while making our health care systems more efficient and sustainable.
A: The environments in which people live affect their health and the health of their communities. When children have access to safe parks, they are more active. When local stores sell affordable healthy foods, families eat better. For childhood obesity prevention, an environmental approach means focusing on the actual, physical places where children live, learn and play. The goal is to ensure that these environments support and encourage healthy eating and active living. Sometimes it takes new public policies to make that change happen. For example, states working to improve the quantity and quality of physical education in schools; school boards banning junk food in school vending machines, transportation planners integrating bicycle lanes and walking paths into road construction projects and cities offering incentives to build new supermarkets in underserved areas.
A: We’re working hardest in the communities facing the greatest needs, especially lower-income communities and communities of color. These are the places where families most often do not have access to healthy options, like safe places to be physically active and stores that sell affordable healthy food. We can’t achieve our goal of reversing the obesity epidemic—or generating the kinds of long-term cost savings needed to support our health care system—without making major progress in these communities. But even if it were possible, we would still emphasize lower-income communities and communities of color, because reducing disparities is core to our values. We believe that everyone deserves to live in a safe, healthy community.
A: The best way to curb obesity is to reach people while they’re young. If we can prevent obesity among children, they are far less likely to become obese adults and to face increased risk for serious chronic health conditions like asthma, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
A: Overall, rates of childhood overweight and obesity are higher in New Jersey compared to the national data. NJPHK’s focus is in the communities facing the greatest needs, especially lower-income communities and communities of color. These are the places where families most often do not have access to healthy options, safe places to be physically active and stores that sell affordable healthy food.