To the 2016 Presidential Candidates,
I am Samir Becic and I would like to know when the presidential candidates and the debate moderators will address the obesity epidemic in the United States? As a health and fitness professional, it is alarming to me that 36% of our population is obese and 70% is overweight, causing 360,000 deaths each year directly due to obesity-related illnesses. The candidates are talking about healthcare, security and the budget, but are completely neglecting preventative care through physical fitness and healthy nutrition. Addressing this colossal problem now can save millions of American lives and billions of taxpayer dollars.
The following issues are dominating the debates, but each of them is impacted by the obesity epidemic:
- 27 percent of young Americans aged 17-24 cannot serve the military due to obesity-related concerns.
- More than 100 retired generals and admirals have acknowledged the gravity of obesity on homeland security and are calling for new child nutrition legislation.
- U.S. military discharges over 1,200 first-term enlistees before contract is up due to weight problems.
- Obesity-related medical treatment costs up to $210 billion a year – nearly 10 percent of annual medical spending.
- Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14.1 billion.
- If obesity trends continue, medical costs alone could rise up to $66 billion each year.
- The current annual impact of poor health is $1.8 trillion; obesity-related job absenteeism costs $4.3 billion.
- Companies with wellness programs have 28 percent reduced sick leave and 26 percent reduced healthcare costs.
- For every dollar spent on wellness initiatives, corporations can save as high as $10.
The men and women who hope to be our president are raging ’til they’re red in the face about healthcare costs and national security. The candidates want cheaper medicine? I say we should aspire to use less medicine! If we inspire people to workout and eat healthy, there’s less risk they’ll wind up in the hospital. Of course our healthcare costs are spiraling out of control; we’re eating unhealthy food, being physically inactive and just sweeping the problem under the rug. I am shocked that the moderators are not bringing this issue up on the debate stage when it weighs so heavy on our nation! I tell the presidential candidates obesity is one of biggest issues.
The presidential hopefuls need to look to their predecessors for inspiration. JFK said, “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” George W. Bush declared: “Exercise is so important that corporate America should help its employees make time. There should be flextime for families, and there should be flextime for exercise. A healthy workforce is a more productive workforce. We have got to do a better job of encouraging exercise in America.”
Let’s make America the fittest nation in the world!