The Physician on Call, To Make Sense of it All!


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How small steps early on can curb obesity later in life

It is a struggle to lose weight as an adult, each pound takes dogged effort and every step forward can be succeeded by two steps back. However, if you start targeting obesity early on and bring it to heel in childhood, it is less likely to show up in adulthood. There has been a great deal of debate over childhood obesity, especially over how to address it.


Recently, there was a steady conducted; it showed clearly that just implementing a few steps could not only decrease the likelihood of childhood obesity, but also significantly decrease the healthcare cost and increase revenue.


Different approaches


Four approaches to addressing the problem of childhood obesity were considered and each varied in effectiveness and ease of implementation. The project was called CHOICES or Childhood Obesity Cost-Effectiveness Study and the results were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. It was observed that all methods were effective to some degree; it was also apparent that two were particularly effective.


Placing tax on sweetened-drinks


According to this study, making sweetened drinks more expensive by placing taxes on them would directly affect the amount consumed by children, therefore lowering their body-mass index (BMI). However, the advantages didn’t end there. Every unit of BMI lowered in the first two years because of this, could cost a person $3.16. Yet, they estimated that about $23.2 billion would be saved in healthcare costs over a period of 10 years. Moreover, revenue of $12.5 billion would be earned every year through the new taxes.


Removing tax subsidy for advertizing on children’s television


Similarly, simply removing advertisements promoting junk food and soft drinks from children’s television was also effective. Every dip in BMI unit cost a person $1.16. It saved $343 million in healthcare cost over a period of 10 years and earned revenue of $80 million every year.


The costlier options


While increasing moderate to vigorous activity in schools and promoting healthier habits in preschool have merits and should be implemented, they do prove expensive in comparison. For exercise, better trained teachers and more facilities would be required. That would amount to $401 per unit of BMI reduced per person.


Implementing the less expensive options would be easier while schools and parents worked on encouraging a more active lifestyle and healthier eating habits in children. A combination of the four would be needed for promoting overall childhood health. However, taxing sweetened drinks and advertising on children’s television is a good place to start with.