As health care reform progresses, wellness and prevention must be a priority. It is, and has been, one of WakeMed’s top health reform priorities, particularly as the obesity epidemic is a very real issue in Wake County. According to local research:
- 70% of adults living in Wake County are overweight/obese
- 52% of children 12-18 years of age are overweight/obese
- 24% of Wake county’s youngest children are overweight/obese
Locally, WakeMed has been working with children for years to curb obesity and prevent type 2 diabetes. Dr. Piehl, director of WakeMed’s Children’s Hospital, created the Energize! program which is focused on altering lifestyles of children who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Our medical team is having great success in preventing the on-set of this disease with the program’s participants through a continued focus on exercise and healthy eating. So much success, that the General Assembly appropriated funds a few years ago to North Carolina’s Division of Public Health to expand Energize! throughout the state. Energize! has been implemented in nearly a dozen counties in North Carolina, from the coast to the mountains, and the Division of Public Health considers Energize! a “best practice” in the fight against type 2 diabetes.
Caring for individuals who suffer from type 2 diabetes, which stems from obesity, is a tremendous cost in our health care system. Preventative programs like Engergize! are a much more efficient way to save money and provide better care for patients – and these programs need to be the focus of future efforts to curb obesity in America.
In Wake County, Advocates for Health in Action (AHA), working in partnership Wake County Health & Human Services, recently applied for stimulus dollars through a proposal that outlines a $10 million comprehensive community initiative to put prevention strategies to work in Wake County. The proposed strategies will increase physical activity levels, improve nutrition and address obesity in our population.
On the federal level, we are pleased that United States Senator Kay Hagan included a provision in the Senate’s final amendment to the health care reform bill to fight the diabetes epidemic in America. The provision comes from Senator Hagan’s Senate Bill 1473 – The Catalyst to Better Diabetes Care Act of 2009. More information can be found on her website.
We are also very excited that the fight against childhood obesity is gaining momentum in the white house. First Lady Michelle Obama has designated childhood obesity as one of her top priorities, and President Obama issued a memorandum yesterday announcing that his Administration will redouble efforts to solve the obesity epidemic within this generation.