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What can be done at a community level to turn the obesity trend around?

At a community level, the trend towards obesity can be turned around through programs that emphasize choosing nutritional food options, minimizing junk food and unhealthy drinks, and encouraging active lifestyles. Programs such as these can be implemented in individual family homes, daycare facilities, schools, and workplaces.

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Officially, educational institutions and governmental organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider the problem of obesity in the United States to be not just a trend but an epidemic. There are numerous possible community programs that could be implemented in family, school, and workplace environments to combat obesity. Here are some examples of programs that you might create to reduce obesity and improve health.

On the family level, it is imperative to educate parents on the importance of good nutrition and healthy diets. In a society bombarded with advertisements for unhealthy alternatives to nutritious food, parents need to purchase and encourage their children to eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, legumes, nuts, lean meats, and fish. They should avoid or at least minimize fatty foods, sweets, sugary drinks, and other products that add calories but offer little or no nutritional value. A program to teach parents what to purchase and stock their fridges and pantries with would assist in this.

Many children spend their early years in community daycare facilities. A program to encourage these facilities to offer nutritious food instead of junk food and sugary drinks would be helpful. These facilities should also provide children with plenty of active playtime, which would help to form healthful habits.

Schools should have programs that teach children the importance of good nutrition. Education on good eating habits and the importance of exercise should be integrated with other classroom subjects. School-based obesity-prevention programs are vital in encouraging children to eat well, remain active, and control their weight.

Another useful program would involve obesity prevention efforts in community workplaces. Employers can provide their employees with nutrition classes, exercise facilities, and healthy food options in company cafeterias. Measures such as these would also enhance company productivity, because healthier employees can get more done.

We see, then, that there are many possible programs that can be implemented at a community level to oppose the obesity epidemic.

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