Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

State Lawmaker To Take Aim Again At Fast-Food Sales In Effort To Combat Obesity

By Sean Whaley | 3:16 pm July 2nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, said today he will try again with a bill in the 2013 session to impose a fee on some items sold at fast-food restaurants in an effort to help combat the national obesity epidemic.

Munford’s proposal, which he said may be expanded to include “junk food” type items sold in other food establishments as well, is one of 144 bill draft requests listed on the Nevada Legislature’s website.

Photo by Aspen04 via Wikimedia Commons.

Munford said his idea is to increase the cost of fast-food items in an effort to get people to choose healthier foods. Money raised from the fee would be directed at programs to combat obesity, he said.

“Not that we were going to deny anybody the opportunity to purchase those things,” he said. “But we just want to put a little tax on it just to make them conscious that it would be a little more expensive than it normally would be.”

The fee might act as a deterrent and get parents to think twice before opting to buy less healthy fast-food items, Munford said.

Munford said he will work with legislative legal staff to refine his proposal and define clearly which items would be subject to the fee.

He introduced similar legislation in the 2011 session, but Assembly Bill 399 did not get a hearing. That bill imposed a five cent fee on fast-food items that contained 500 calories or more.

Munford said a proposal by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the sale of large-size sugary sodas in the city because of concerns about obesity has helped convince him to try again with his bill.

Nevada would not be the first state to consider a “fat tax”. A California lawmaker in 2011 proposed a penny-an-ounce tax on soda pop and other sweetened drinks. The bill did not pass.

The Nevada State Health Division issued a report in 2010 indicating that statewide, 18 percent of 4th, 7th and 10th graders are overweight and 20 percent are obese.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17 percent, or 12.5 million children aged 2 to 19 are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.


Audio clip:

Assemblyman Harvey Munford says he wants a fee charged on unhealthy fast-food items in an effort to deter obesity:

070212Munford :14 normally would be.”



Nevada’s Health Ranking Improves In New National Report, But Obesity, Smoking Remain Serious Concerns

By Sean Whaley | 2:55 pm December 16th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s overall health improved five spots this year compared to the rest of the nation but still ranks in the bottom 10, according to the 22nd edition of America’s Health Rankings.

Nevada’s health improved from 47th in 2010 to 42nd in the new report.

The good news: Nevada has a lower prevalence of obesity than other states, ranking 4th with 23.1 percent of the adult population identified as overweight.

Smoking has also decreased significantly in Nevada, from 29 percent to 21.3 percent of the adult population in the last ten years.

Photograph by Tomasz Sienicki via Wikimedia Commons.

But these positive developments mask just how serious these health issues continue to be, said Dr. Steven Evans, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare of Nevada.

While Nevada’s obesity rate may be lower when compared with other states, the reality is that in the past ten years, obesity has increased from 17.9 percent to 23.1 percent of the adult population. There are now 470,000 obese adults in the state.

And while Nevada’s smoking rate has declined due in large part to voter approval of tough smoking restrictions in 2006, there are still 434,000 adults who smoke.

“Obesity has actually increased in the past 10 years,” Evans said. “So although we, compared to the rest of the country, have done better, there is still a significant portion of our population that is obese.

“We definitely have not turned the corner on that health issue and it has probably become our No. 1 health issue we need to start worrying about,” he said.

“I almost don’t even want to celebrate the fact that we are less obese than the rest of the United States because we still have significant issues with that,” Evans said.

The report was released earlier this month by the United Health Foundation in collaboration with the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.

“America’s health rankings from United Health Foundation is an incredibly valuable tool for us to clearly understand health trends facing us as a nation and here in Nevada,” Evans said. “By identifying the key opportunities we face as a state we can pursue innovative solutions to those opportunities.”

The report shows a few other positives for Nevada.

The state has a low incidence of infectious disease, ranking 4th with 4.8 cases per 100,000 of population. Nevada also has a low rate of preventable hospitalizations, ranking 15th at 58.6 per 1,000 Medicare enrollees.

But there is more bad news as well.

Nevada has a low high school graduation rate, ranking 50th with only 56.3 percent of incoming ninth graders graduating within four years. Evans said those with higher education levels tend to have access to health insurance and take better care of their health overall.

Nevada also has a high violent crime rate, again ranking 50th with 661 offenses per 100,000 population, and a low immunization rate, ranking 49th with 84.6 percent of children aged 19 to 35 months covered with the appropriate inoculations.

In the past year, the percentage of children in poverty increased from 17.9 percent to 23.6 percent of persons under age 18. And in the past five years, diabetes increased from 7.1 percent to 8.5 percent of the adult population. There are now 173,000 Nevada adults with diabetes.

The report shows that for the fifth year in a row, Vermont was the nation’s healthiest state. States that showed the most substantial improvement include New York and New Jersey, both moving up six places. Idaho and Alaska showed the most downward movement. Idaho dropped 10 spots, from number nine to 19 in this year’s rankings, and Alaska dropped five places.

It also shows that the nation’s overall health did not improve from 2010 to 2011 because gains in one area were offset by worsening conditions in another.

One example of this stagnation is improvements in the number of smokers being off-set by worsening rates of obesity. The rankings found that, for every person who quit smoking in 2011, another person became obese.


Audio clips:

Dr. Steven Evans, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare of Nevada, says obesity has actually increased in Nevada in the past decade

121611Evans1 :17 that is obese.”

Evans says Nevada’s obesity ranking compared to other states is no cause for celebration:

121611Evans2 :14 issues with that.”