Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned this week that developing trade protectionism coupled with bloated budget deficits are threatening America's long-term economic vitality. Speaking at the annual Fed conference in Wyoming, Greenspan said trade protectionism and a reluctance to prioritize sustainable economic policy threaten what may be the nation's greatest policy asset: flexibility to weather volatile economic swings. Fiscal concerns aside, other experts this week sounded the alarm on another item experiencing inflation -- America's waistline.
Whether it's the fault of fried foods or lack of exercise -- Americans are getting fatter. Data collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the percentage of obese adults from 2002-to-2004, stood at 22.7 percent nationally ... up marginally from the last
Alabama had the unhealthiest increase, where more than one-quarter of the population is considered obese. The other states with an unhealthy increase in obesity were Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana and Tennessee.
The lowest percentages of obese adults reside in Colorado, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont and Montana.
Health policy analysts say that obesity places a burden on taxpayers because it requires the Medicare and Medicaid programs to cover the treatment of diseases caused by obesity. A report released by the advocacy group, Trust for America's Health, said taxpayers spent $39 (B) billion dollars in 2003 for the treatment of conditions attributed to obesity.
The solution? The report recommends mandatory screening for obesity among Medicaid recipients, as well as nutritional counseling. Executive director of the organization also called for land use plans to promote physical activity, healthier meals served in school lunch programs, and subsidized fitness programs for Medicaid recipients.