Hungry for Change: Tackling Broward's Obesity Epidemic

March 15, 2018

There’s no doubt about it. The American waistline is getting much, much bigger. In fact, obesity has more than doubled nationwide since the late 1980s. Today, it’s the second leading cause of preventable death – right behind smoking cigarettes.

The prevalence of chronic diseases linked to the obesity epidemic, like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and cancer, has also increased sharply. More than $190 billion is now spent nationally every year on weight-related healthcare expenses. The estimated cost of the epidemic to U.S. businesses and employers due to missed work and lost productivity is $4.3 billion annually.

One thing’s for certain, the health of our community impacts us all.

Broward is Bursting at the Seams.

If we are what we eat, the nation’s growing obsession with bigger portion sizes, processed foods, and sugary drinks, combined with lack of exercise, has Broward bursting at the seams. An estimated two out of every three adults in our community are overweight or obese. Related chronic diseases and conditions are highest among Broward women, and our area’s low income and minority residents.

The myth of the ‘lazy overweight person’ is just that – a myth. Sure, the most common causes of obesity are bad eating habits and inactivity. But dig deeper and you’ll find that being heavy isn’t always a choice. Cultural, physical and economic barriers often prevent access to healthy, nutritional choices and living an active lifestyle.

For example, what if you’re prone to being overweight or obese based on family history, live in an area considered a ‘food desert’ where healthier food choices aren’t available, can’t afford nutritious foods or don’t have access to safe places to exercise? Each of these examples can be found right here in our area.

Tipping the Scales

The Community Foundation is hard at work to tip the scales in Broward. Through our work, known as BFit, we support innovative efforts that change behavior, improve lives and create a healthier community for everyone. Together with our Fundholders we:

  • Expand access to affordable and nutritious foods
  • Create changes in behavior through education and raising awareness
  • Increase social and physical environments that support good health
  • Promote active lifestyles
  • Advocate for policy changes that focus on obesity prevention

Although great progress is being made, it’s going to take more work and additional resources to combat the obesity epidemic for good. Local philanthropists must also continue to step forward to shape a brighter future. Working together, we can make Broward a healthier, happier community.


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