Proposals for the Future of Public Health from a Modern Kansan Whig's Perspective.

Throughout the whole of human history one primary belief has remained true and especially dear to the hearts of people around the world; health is undoubtedly valuable and obtaining it is crucial to the existence of humanity. However, the modern American society has perpetuated one of the worst man-made health epidemics in human history. Although most Americans see the effects of obesity every day, society has severely neglected this fundamental public health problem for decades and the inevitable consequences of societies negligence must finally be confronted. Over the past decades experts from across the nation and around the world have started to become cognizant of the developing problem; consequently, many propositions have been made to combat obesity. Currently, one of the largest barriers to curing obesity in the United States today is the difficulty and lack of cohesion in addressing the problem that currently affects nearly two-thirds of all Americans. Therefore, the implementation of proven and effective obesity management plans, general public health mandates, and the taxation of the causes of obesity are steps of paramount importance in overcoming obesity in America today. One of the most highly esteemed and empirically proven methods of reducing the prevalence of obesity is the implementation of proven obesity management plans. Although this term might seem relatively vague, multiple components are critical in implementing obesity management plans. One central component to managing the problem of obesity that America faces today is the education of the populace about the issue of obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the amount of education a child receives about the issue of obesity from an early age undisputedly impacts their awareness of the effects of obesity and the necessity of proper dietary habits. After ensuring the foundation of awareness is established, it is imperative to ensure that the general public understands the repercussions of obesity and bad eating habits/lifestyles that directly correlate to higher rates of obesity among children and adults. These inexpensive and relatively simple forms of public education are crucial due to the ubiquitous qualities of the media. This ubiquity allows information to spread quickly to a large percentage of the population. In addition to utilizing the media to educate the public, allowing the public a free (or extremely cheap) opportunity to address their health concerns is another necessary step in providing a path to remission for those who suffer from severe obesity. Moreover, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) view medical support as the first pivotal step in achieving recovery from obesity, granting patients who suffer from obesity a chance to seek out professional advice on how to address their health problems on a case-by-case basis. Despite their empirical ability to urge the public to reform their diet and living habits, public education via the media and the opportunity for citizens to seek help in addressing their obesity problems will not be able to single-handedly solve the immense problem of obesity; therefore, it is critical for the community's focus to shift from passive actions to active forms of combatting obesity. Another vital part of the success of these new plans to limit obesity is the concept of implementing and enforcing public health mandates. Many of these mandates include the monitoring of a citizen’s waist size or body mass index (BMI) to allow the government to document which citizens may be at increased risk for health problems related to obesity. Additionally, some of the more austere health mandates call for a policy of higher taxation for those who do not fulfill the set health conditions. The logic behind these policies originates with the goal of reducing health care expenses for the general population by reducing the prevalence of one of the most detrimental diseases that exists within the United States. Currently, American healthcare is the most expensive healthcare system in the world, according to the World Health Organization, prompting many citizens to go without necessary treatment because of the cost of receiving medical care. The CDC also declared that America spends nearly 10% of its entire annual healthcare budget ($147 billion) dealing exclusively with obesity; therefore, it is necessary to mitigate the prevalence of obesity in order to make healthcare more affordable for the general populace. The communities of America also have a moral obligation to mitigate the shocking rates of death caused by obesity every year. In 2014 alone, over 600,000 people died in the U.S. due to diseases directly related to obesity, meaning nearly 1 in every 5 deaths in the U.S. occurs because of obesity. These astonishingly mortality numbers prompted the American Medical Association to categorize obesity as a disease in 2008; despite this classification, no decisive action on how to solve this overwhelming health issue was produced. In contrast to this blatant lack of concern towards obesity, the U.S. spends over $215 billion a year treating and researching cures for cancer in spite of the fact that obesity kills approximately 23,000 more people annually than cancer. Therefore, taxation or financial penalties on the obese could be a necessary step in generating extra revenue to increase the affordability of health care and creating crucial incentives for citizens to become healthier. Although this attitude towards obesity might seem strict and excessively harsh on citizens suffering from obesity, these actions have been tried in the past in nations like Japan and have yielded beneficial results on a national and municipal level. Since 2005, Japan has implemented health mandates for citizens ages 40 to 74, these require citizens to come to hospitals to have their waistline and weight recorded, allowing the government to predict which patients may be at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other obesity-related illnesses. These methods have been implemented on a national and local level in Japan, meaning that urban centers and rural communities alike can experience the benefits of an improved state of public health. In addition to its empirical successes, several health experts, including Yoichi Ogushi, ardently support the inclusion of health mandates in the United States. Ogushi, a health expert from the Tokai School of Medicine states, “if you did this in the United States, there would be benefits, since there are many Americans who weigh over 100 kilograms [around 220 pounds]”. In Japan the program has had astounding results and the Japanese government has projected that they will reduce the overweight population by 25 percent over the next seven years. Due to these triumphs, there is a high probability that the future of America’s public health will rely on its ability to adopt, adapt, and improve upon the public health mandates implemented internationally. In addition to the implementation of proven management plans and the introduction of public health mandates, the process of taxing the root causes of obesity is a critical step in eradicating the disease. This type of taxation, commonly called a “fat tax”, often centers around reducing the affordability of foods that are deemed unhealthy for consumers. This line of action is often regarded as one of the most feasible and historically implemented forms of obesity mitigation in history. Similar to many other great innovations in obesity management, taxes on unhealthy foods were first created overseas. In Denmark, the government decided to implement a tax on certain foods that possessed more than 2.3% saturated fats. After Demark’s experimental trial with the “fat tax,” many other European nations such as Hungary and France joined Denmark’s pioneering campaign to improve the health of their citizens. These successes across Europe prompted the European Union’s health associations to praise the taxation on unhealthy foods, remarking that the action was able to “achieve a reduction in the consumption of the taxed products”. This truly laudable ability to collect revenues from the tax and limit the impact of unhealthy foods on society allows a community to witness an improved state of public health and have enough excess revenue to subsidize healthier foods. Moreover, the implementation of taxes on unhealthy foods are of paramount importance in addressing the public health issues that Kansas is facing. Currently, Kansas has the 13th highest adult obesity rate in the nation at just over 31%. Obesity in Kansas has also increased over 12% since the year 2000; these statistics have led experts to conclude that by 2035, Kansas’s obese population may exceed half the population of the state. Therefore, it will be necessary to implement taxes on unhealthy consumer items in Kansas and the across entire nation; certainly these taxes will play a vital part in how the state and local communities will view obesity in the future. Undoubtedly, humanity truly values the gift of health and it is imperative that the often debilitating, malignant disease of obesity is battled on a national and local scale. Therefore, it is crucial that our community and our nation is able to change and reform to meet the needs of our citizens in solving the colossal obesity problem. Moreover, the future health of the nation depends on how America confronts obesity today. Hopefully, the implementation of proven and effective obesity management plans, general public health mandates, and the taxation of unhealthy consumer goods will mold the future generation of Americans to appreciate the gift of health and strive to ensure the longevity of the generations that succeed them. As a footnote I would also like to apologize for the previous post entitled "Possibly a focus on the future of the Modern Whig Party" for its briefness. I was still new to the site and was unaware of proper posting procedure.


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  • commented 2016-04-07 22:29:50 -0400
    Thank you for this most informative and enlightening take on Health concerns. Of course there are many facets to the challege before us.
    Interestungly, the recent and very serious incident of contaminated water in Michigan comes to mind.
    The poisoning of Americans as a direct result of poor government should be of paramount concern to the Modern Whig Party.
    America first, Americans foremost, could be our newly found mantra.

    Observer Jules