Obesity Named This Century’s Greatest Health Threat

Obesity is “the single greatest threat to public health in this century,” declares a report by a 13-member panel of national nutrition and health experts.

A panel of medical experts is calling obesity the greatest health threat of the century.

An advisory panel of 13 nutrition and health specialists recently finalized the government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which urges people to cut back on fatty foods and follow a healthier diet. About two thirds of adults and one third of children in the United States are overweight or obese.

The advisory committee focused on four major steps to curb the obesity epidemic:

  • Reduce excess weight and obesity.
  • Shift to a more plant-based diet.
  • Significantly reduce intake of added sugars and solid fats.
  • Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

The proposed guidelines suggest a vegetarian-style diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and seeds and only moderate amounts of lean meat, eggs and poultry. Sugary drinks and sodas should also be limited, and Americans should cut their sodium intake to 1,500mg/day.

The advisory panel also recommends that Americans eat more seafood and low fat dairy products and engage in about two and a half hours of moderately intense physical activity per week for adults. Children and teens are urged to have an hour or more physical activity each day.

Changing the food environment through enhanced nutrition education, better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as efforts to help and motivate families to cook more healthfully is necessary if Americans are going to overcome the growing trend of obesity in the U.S., experts note.

The final 2010 dietary guidelines will be released later in the year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services.