By the year 2030 more than 60 percent of our state’s citizens will be obese. And as a nation, all 50 states could have obesity rates above 44 percent within the next 20 years. As a result, for the first time in our nation’s history, our children now have a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents. Even more alarming, one in four U.S teens are too overweight to join the U.S military, which could become an issue of national security.
So what can us as citizens do to curb this rising epidemic? The easiest way for us to take action is quite simple: we have to educate ourselves. For instance, the last time you went to your local fast food establishment and ordered your favorite value meal, did you really know how many calories you were consuming? The average fast food meal can range between 1,050-1,300 calories. Now, keep in mind that the average person only requires between 1,500-2,000 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight. By eating just that one meal, we have already eaten the majority of our caloric need for the day, and that was just one meal! Add in the breakfast and lunch we ate before that and we are well above our caloric need for the day.
As citizens of Independence we are relying on restaurants more than ever to feed us and our families and more often than not we significantly underestimate the caloric content of a quick and convenient meal, which is leading to overeating and obesity. If we hope to address this issue, we need to assure ourselves that we have better access to nutritional information on menus and menu boards.
Beginning in 2013, the Federal Government will begin requiring all restaurants with more than 20 locations nationwide will begin posting the caloric content of food items on menus, menu boards and drive thru lanes. Americans are striving to eat healthier and want access to this nutritional knowledge. Menu labeling not only strives to curb the obesity epidemic, but with this information allows people to work to alleviate other nutrition-related health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight, heart disease, arthritis, celiac disease and others.
In the last few years, 22 states have passed or were considering menu labeling, either statewide or by region. Locally, an overwhelming 73 percent of Independence residents reported that they would like to see restaurants post calories or nutritional information on their menus.
In response to this, the Building a Healthier Independence (BHI) grant initiative is assisting local, non-chain restaurants that are interested in offering this information on their menus and menu boards. Through this grant we will provide advertising directing residents where they can find healthy food choices, assist in promotional advertising through local and social media. Point-of-Sale menu labeling is an important step in giving our citizens the information they need to make healthier food choices, and in part, Building a Healthier Independence.
For more information on this initiative please contact the Independence Health Department at 816-325-7185 or by visiting our website at www.BuildingAHealthierIndependence.org.