Last updated: August 23. 2013 11:06AM - 49 Views

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A new report came out this week telling us something we already knew: too many of us are fat, and we’re getting fatter.A wellness event did a great job reminding us about things we need to do to live a healthier lifestyle. Yet, we’ve heard it before.But then came that one statement from a national health expert visiting Lima: “For the first time in American history, there will be a generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents.” Those 20 words by Mark Fenton provided a whole different wake-up call for living a healthier lifestyle.It’s a shame more people didn’t have the opportunity to hear him speak. His perspective was quite different than what we typically hear.“The kind of change we’re talking about to raise a healthier generation is so much more than just telling people to eat well and exercise. We really need to build our community with an eye toward healthy behavior,” said Fenton. “It’s everything from where and what kind of foods we sell and what kind of food we grow, to how we get from place to place on a daily basis. Not just exercise, it’s where we walk, where we bike how we use our transit system. You’re going to need your policymakers to be in that conversation.”Given the fact that the Ohio Health Department says only five of the state’s 88 counties have poorer health behaviors than Allen County, it was good to learn about a group called Activate Allen County. Headed up by Jerry Courtney, president of the Lima Family YMCA, its members consist of public health, planning, and engineering agencies, corporate leaders and educators. Its goals fall in line with those advocated by Fenton.“We have been tinkering around the edges on this topic,” Fenton said. “Nobody’s tackling the bigger, deeper issues of let’s look out for the icebergs. Let’s put out an early warning system. In this case, we’ve already got it. Our early warning system says this generation of kids is going to have such high rates of Type II diabetes we’re going to be losing them early. That’s harrowing.”Some progress has been made nationwide, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reported Monday. The skyrocketing rates of obesity in the 1980s and ’90s have ended. Yet, Americans aren’t getting thinner. The decade began and ended with about 17 percent of the nation’s teens and children being obese. That has resulted in 9 percent of the nation’s yearly health spending, or $150 billion per year.A new forecast by Duke University suggests 32 million more people could be obese in 2030 — adding $550 billion in health spending the next eight years.Statistics like these are among the reasons why the cost of health-care is such a debate in America today. It’s also why groups like Activate Allen County are needed to provide the leadership necessary to produce a healthier generation of Allen County residents — things such as creating a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly community as well as developing work sites and schools that offer healthier settings for a more active population.Much of the work of Activate Allen County has been taking place in the background. We’re glad to see it becoming more public and hope the group will continue to be more visible in the future. Failure to properly promote the group’s worthwhile efforts will lead to, as Fenton says, a situation where it simply ends up rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic in hopes of stopping the ship from hitting the iceberg.

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