Unfortunately, as many know around the world, the United States is the most obese country on Earth. In my own opinion, I believe obesity begins with the parents, and can be contagious amongst a family.
Let me explain.
Say a husband and wife, both overweight with not the healthiest diets (unfortunately couples like this are too common in the US), have children. Those unhealthy diets, the cheap and easy fast food, the lack of belief in exercise, leads to those children also becoming over weight and potentially obese. Furthermore, although we would expect our K-12 system to do something about this, it is becoming more and more of an issue that PE programs and recess time is being cut. How can we expect to educate children and their families the importance of a healthy diet, when the school systems aren't even willing to add enough money towards that type of education. Sure it may begin with the parents unhealthy lifestyle choices, but society is also to blame with its cheap fattening food and misunderstanding of diet.
In order to try and rid the US of obesity, I believe it starts at an early age of every child's life. Not only emphasizing diet and exercise in school and through media and publicity, but also to teach adults about it as well. Educating and improving the knowledge of said parents, would benefit their children and the society tremendously in a movement towards a healthier lifestyle.
I know this is an old topic, but I just found it. I think it is important to get good eating and exercise habits instilled in kids when they are young. One thing that would help would be to ban advertising for fast food that is directed at children. Hard to do, given the power of the fast food industries...
The comlications in this question stem from the free and open market of the United States. Empirical data proves that some food in the United States is not healthy and, in fact, is harmful to one's health. However, the government cannot regulate companies that doll out junk food on the premise that Americans are given freedom to refuse the food if they wish. Recent legislation in some cities (see New York City) has mandated that calorie counts be posted next to items on fast food restaurants' menus, thus increasing consumer awareness.
Perhaps the best way to approach this situation is by altering eating habits in K-12 schools (the formative years of our lives). Public schools are obviously state owned so they have more freedom to change what is on the menu and which vendors can sell products. The government has already decided that citizens are not capable of making most "adult" decisions about potential health-hazard consumption until 18--the very end of the k-12 cycle. Thus it is the government's responsibility to, at least during school hours, provided the healthiest food choices possible.
For one small piece of supporting this argument, research the difference in students' sugar intake if all soda machines were taken out and replaced with low-sugar juice and water machines. That could then be directly related to punds lost across the United States. If it is a staggering statistic, which I presume it will be, your point would be compelling.
Jogging and exercising are some of my best routine to keep my self healthy.
We will be in a better position to fix the problem of obesity in America, if we realize that like many other problems facing large sections of society, and to a large extent, self inflicted, can never be solved completely. For example, smoking is a much more serious health hazard than obesity, and government has been trying to take action against it, without much results.
For some reasons, that I do not understand completely, people do tend to indulge in behavior that they know is not in their best interest. But two factors that contribute to such factors are (1) conflict between short- and long-term good, and (2) and problem of excessive indulgence.
People eat junk food for the short term pleasure. They may know its long term harms, but are unable to resist the immediate temptations. Also junk food, consumed in limited quantities gives pleasure but poses no health hazards. But people over indulge themselves.
Forming, good habits among children during their formative years, as suggested in a previous post is a good approach to overcome the two problems identified by me. But the efforts need to go beyond regulating the food available in schools. There is a need to change the basic thinking of parents as well as the children.
This problem can be fixed only if people become aware of the risks involved by obesity, such as heart diseases, arterial hypertension, osteoarthritis, low sexual activity, sleep disorders, depression, cholesterol, diabetes mellitus and various types of cancer. Indeed, nowadays is popular to be on a diet and maybe this is the reason why people don't pay attention to they eating habits. They want to see real proofs and not just advertisements for weight loss products and fancy talk shows.
The only way to fix it is with proper education about eating right, and exercising correctly. Because no matter what we do, people will always be bombarded by ads and images of what others think healthy is and "it's ok to have just a few" philosophy.