COLUMBUS (AP) - The state can stop or reverse the annual growth of obesity among adults and children within five years, but it first must promote greater access to healthy food and exercise, the Ohio Department of Health said in a report released Tuesday.
The department's "Ohio Obesity Prevention Plan" sets out a number of policy priorities that can be achieved between now and 2014.
State officials should focus efforts on preventing more Ohioans from becoming obese, rather than promoting weight loss among those already seriously overweight, the report said.
Gov. Ted Strickland directed the department to formulate the comprehensive plan last September. A 2007 government survey found that 28.1 percent of adults in the state were obese, while an Ohio Department of Health study found almost 19 percent of Ohio third-graders were obese.
The report said obesity threatens the health of children, the productivity of workers and the afford ability of the health care system.
It noted that significant improvement in combating obesity is unlikely in just five years, but said the trend can start being reversed.
The department outlined goals to improve physical activity opportunities, nutrition and access to healthy food choices and to coordinate policy and resources targeting the reduction of obesity.
By the end of 2009, the department hopes to create a statewide trail plan to promote exercise opportunities and increase access to fresh and healthy foods by promoting Ohio farmers markets.
By the end of 2010, the department wants to have identified opportunities for increasing access to healthy, state-produced foods in vending machines.
Long-term objectives, to be achieved by the end of 2014, include coordinating with insurers and payers to offer health plans that encourage the maintenance of a healthy weight and lifestyle.
On the Net:
Office of Healthy Ohio, http://www.healthyohioprogram.org/
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.