April 11, 2013
Vermont Fights Obesity
In the last 20 years, there has been a substantial increase in obesity in the United States and the rates continue to remain significantly high. More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and approximately 17% of children are considered obese (Overweight). According to WebMD a person is considered obese when his or her weight is 20% or more above normal weight. The most common consequences of obesity are the health risks associated with it such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but there are also social and psychological problems that result from it as well. These social and psychological problems caused by obesity might be even more detrimental to a person than the physical effects associated with it. The levels of stigma rise along with weight, and affect both people's working and social lives. Fifty-two percent of people who fell into the obese or morbidly obese categories believe they have been discriminated against when applying for a job or promotion and about two-fifths of them said they have been socially shunned. In addition, 36 percent said they felt they had been discriminated against when being seated in theaters or restaurants (Gardner). “The reaction of Americans to a fat person, particularly one who is more than 25 percent to 35 percent above the so-called ideal weight, is so intense and so overwhelmingly negative that some scientists are exploring it as a window on the raw material of human nature” (Angier). As the obesity rates in the United States continue to grow, so does the discrimination against this community. More states are becoming aware of this issue and realizing the affect it has on their communities. Vermont in particular is very aware of the negative effects of obesity. Vermont officials have put into place numerous programs to promote good health and exercise to try and eliminate the rise of childhood and adult obesity. Rather than discriminating against this community, Vermont is encouraging them and helping them to get healthy. Vermont’s approach to this issue is not only ethical but sustainable. Obese children are at a higher risk of becoming obese adults and are more likely to suffer from the health conditions associated with obesity, which is why it is important to promote healthy eating habits for children. Vermont school systems are aware of how it important it is for children to eat healthy and have recently put into place a program that signifies this. Senator Patrick Leahy recently authorized a farm to school program that is investing $100,000 in efforts to connect Vermont's school cafeterias with local agricultural producers. Farm to school programs are a developing movement that Vermont has been a leader in with about 200 of the state’s 420 schools participating. The grants will help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods, as well as increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses. They will also be used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms and cooking classes (Vermont). Leahy said, “Linking Vermont’s farms to our cafeterias is a winning strategy, and it’s a natural fit for Vermont on several levels. These new revenue streams strengthen our farms and local economies, creating jobs. These links improve nutrition and healthy eating choices and help kids understand where their food comes from" (Vermont). Welch said, "This is great news for Vermont. In addition to providing nutritious meals to Vermont’s schoolchildren, this important program will also invest in our local communities and support our family farmers” (Vermont). These types of programs that Vermont is putting into place are not only promoting healthy eating habits for children and preventing childhood obesity, but also promoting local farmers and creating jobs. This is a good example of how Vermont’s...