Costs of Obesity

….An expensive problem

Medical professionals have long warned of the medical and financial costs of the national obesity epidemic. Tuesday’s report estimated that Texas spends more than $5.7 billion on obesity-related chronic conditions, including hypertension, cancer, diabetes and back problems.

If obesity levels continue to surge as projected, Texans will spend more than $23.2 billion on obesity-linked health care in 2018, or about $1,255 per adult. The overall cost of obesity to the U.S. is $344 billion, the study found.

“We’ve had an explosion of (obesity-related) disease, which is a key driver of rising health care costs,” said Ken Thorpe, professor of health policy at Emory University and a contributing author of the America’s Health Rankings report.

If Texas’ obesity rate would begin to level off now, residents would spend 12 percent less on health care in 2018 than if obesity continues to grow at its current pace, Thorpe said.

On a scale of 1 to 50, we’re only a fat #14
By LYNSI BURTON Copyright 2009
Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau
Nov. 18, 2009, 11:44AM

……More than 61 percent of Texas is overweight or obese. Obesity in children has reached crisis proportions in Texas. More than 35 percent of Texas schoolchildren are overweight or obese. The number of overweight and obese children has doubled over the last 20 years, and it continues to rise….A child who is obese by age 12 has more than a 75 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.

Studies show that overweight children miss three or four times as much school as children who are not overweight and often struggle with social problems, such as depression and low self-esteem. They also increase their risk for Type 2 diabetes and for adult long-term illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, asthma and certain cancers. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the diseases associated with obesity are increasing at the same rate as obesity itself.


Farmers Need Affordable Water

Thanks to Council Members Chris Riley and Mike Martinez and their aides Marisa Ballas, Andrew Moore and Water Utility staff Dave Anders, Rusty Cobern, Alice Flora, Lora Schneider, and Darrel Culberson our four-year wastewater nightmare ended this year.

For the first time since starting our farm in 2006, we are not billed for unused wastewater services when our four acres of crops are irrigated or our animals drink water. Our landlord finally installed a separate water meter for our fields.

Wastewater, which is more expensive than water, has cost our farm almost $10,000 in fees for services we never used. This long ordeal has been exhausting both financially and emotionally.

Only when we brought together CIty Hall, Sustainable Food Policy Board and Austin Water Utility was this situation fixed, not just for our farm, but for all urban farms and community gardens.

Thanks to everyone involved, especially Marisa Ballas, who kept our cause alive when we had lost hope.

Though the battle for affordable water for sustainable, organic farms is not done (and we are still out $10,000), this is a step in the right direction. What’s needed now is an agricultural rate for water. Local growers feeding local citizens need to be encouraged.


Release No. 57.10
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623


WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2010— Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced today that USDA will develop a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the United States, and undertake several other actions to further strengthen its disease prevention and response capabilities.

“After concluding our listening tour on the National Animal Identification System in 15 cities across the country, receiving thousands of comments from the public and input from States, Tribal Nations, industry groups, and representatives for small and organic farmers, it is apparent that a new strategy for animal disease traceability is needed,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I’ve decided to revise the prior policy and offer a new approach to animal disease traceability with changes that respond directly to the feedback we heard.”

The framework, announced today at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Mid-Year meeting, provides the basic tenets of an improved animal disease traceability capability in the United States. USDA’s efforts will:
Only apply to animals moved in interstate commerce;
Be administered by the States and Tribal Nations to provide more flexibility;
Encourage the use of lower-cost technology; and
Be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process.
“One of my main goals for this new approach is to build a collaborative process for shaping and implementing our framework for animal disease traceability,” said Vilsack. “We are committed to working in partnership with States, Tribal Nations and industry in the coming months to address many of the details of this framework, and giving ample opportunity for farmers and ranchers and the public to provide us with continued input through this process.”

One of USDA’s first steps will be to convene a forum with animal health leaders for the States and Tribal Nations to initiate a dialogue about the possible ways of achieving the flexible, coordinated approach to animal disease traceability we envision. Additionally, USDA will be revamping the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health to address specific issues, such as confidentiality and liability.

Although USDA has a robust system in place to protect U.S. agriculture, with today’s announcement, the Department will also be taking additional actions to further strengthen protections against the entry and spread of disease. These steps will include actions to lessen the risk from disease introduction, initiating and updating analyses on how animal diseases travel into the country, improving response capabilities, and focusing on greater collaboration and analyses with States and industry on potential disease risk overall.

More information on USDA’s new direction on animal traceability and the steps to improve disease prevention and control is available at

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