Although a recent report shows that adult obesity rates in the U.S. have remained steady in recent years – rather than continuing the upward trend seen for decades – rates are still too high, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) – and elected officials should take action on the issue.

AHA CEO Nancy Brown said rates among both adults and children, particularly in low-income and minority communities, should spur local, state and federal officials to enact policies to combat obesity.

What can be done

Brown’s laundry list is a long one:

“States and localities should work to ensure that schools promote wellness by serving and promoting healthy foods and ensuring adequate time for effective physical education and physical activity; that streets are safe for everyone to get around, whether they walk, bike, roll or drive and there are safe places for people to be active; that healthy and affordable foods are accessible in every neighborhood; and support sugary drink taxes that drive consumers to choose to purchase healthier drinks and provide revenue for evidence-based programs that promote health equity,” she said.

School foods, menu labels important

Brown also called upon Congress and the Administration to “show real bipartisan leadership” in maintaining current school foods nutrition standards instead of rolling them back or eliminating parts of them; implementing menu labeling rules and updating the Nutrition Facts label instead of delaying them; ensuring adequate funding for Medicaid; fully funding the Student Support and Academic Enrichment block grant program that schools can use for physical education curriculum; and protecting the integrity and funding levels of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  – if not increasing the monthly benefit level – while looking for innovating ways to address dietary quality.”

Brown described the health of Americans as being at a “critical” point.

“We urge our policymakers to rise to the challenge.”