Cigarettes, Food Causing More Deaths
An article entitled "Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000," published in the March 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicates that tobacco use and obesity - caused by poor diet and physical inactivity - are the num
The report calls for public health and health care systems to place a higher priority on smoking cessation and prevention, along with improved nutrition and increased physical activity.
According to the report, which is based on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity may soon overtake tobacco as the leading preventable cause of death.
Regardless of this trend, both are leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease - the nationâ€™s number one killer - and both must be dealt with to significantly improve Americanâ€™s health.
Deaths from tobacco use and obesity can be prevented if public health policies are implemented that help raise awareness and create environments for change.
The American Heart Association has called on the nationâ€™s policy makers to act now to stop these epidemics. The association is working with federal, state and local governments to implement the following policy solutions to fight obesity and reduce tobaccoâ€™s toll on our national health:
* Promoting minimum standards of physical education in grades K-8 and supporting the creation of coordinated school health programs to address nutrition, physical activity and tobacco use laying the found-ation for life-long healthy habits and minimizing the impact of chronic disease on our children.
* Reauthorizing the Child Nutri-tion Program and including provis-ions to promote healthier nutrition choices.
* Supporting transportation policies like Safe Routes to Schools to provide funding to design local transportation systems to allow kids to walk and bike to school safely.
* Supporting significant increases in chronic disease funding at the CDC, for programs such as its State Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program.
* Supporting meaningful, adequately funded Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco products.
* Adopting clean indoor air ordinances in all establishments to protect workers and patrons from the toxic effects of secondhand tobacco smoke.
* Increasing excise taxes on tobacco to both decrease the demand for tobacco products and to help fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
* Promoting the investment of a significant portion of funding from the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement into prevention and cessation programs, at levels recommended by the CDC.
For more information on these and other efforts to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular disease call the American Heart Associationâ€™s Office of Public Advocacy at (202) 785-7900.