On March 29th I am a speaker on a panel at the Dole Institute of Politics. The panel is addressing an important issue – healthy eating and active living. Over 30% of our local population is either overweight or obese. This is a topic the foundation board has targeted significant funding and it is a subject that Senator Dole is recognized as a national leader.
In the late 1970’s I worked for Senator Tom Eagleton. I was privileged to work with Senator Dole and his outstanding staff. Back then Democrats and Republicans worked together to draft legislation. Senator Dole and Senator McGovern were the fathers of the food stamp program and they both served for many years on the US Senate Agriculture Committee.
Clearly, obesity is a national epidemic. Missouri currently ranks as the 13th most obese state in the nation, while Kansas ranks slightly better as the 18th most obese state. According to research, obesity is related to several unfavorable health outcomes:
- Among individuals who have received a doctor’s diagnosis of arthritis, almost 69% are overweight or obese.
- Obese individuals are 83% more likely to develop kidney disease that normal weight individuals.
- More than 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.
- Over the past 10 years, the number of newly diagnosed diabetes cases in the US has nearly doubled from 4.8 per 1,000 to 9.1 per 1,000.
Obesity prevention research has emphasized the need to expand beyond individual programmatic changes and incorporate environmental and policy approaches to more effectively prevent obesity. It’s too bad Senator Dole will not be in Lawrence, KS on March 29th… we all could learn from this effective legislator.