Almost 10 Percent of U.S. Medical Costs Tied to Obesity

One of the biggest problems facing Americans is soaring consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks, which add almost 150 calories to the daily diet, Frieden said.

Frieden believes that taxing sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks will help cut down on consumption and raise revenues that can be used to fight the obesity epidemic.

The upshot of Monday's meeting is that stemming the obesity epidemic is going to take a societal effort.

"Reversing obesity is not going to be done successfully with individual effort," Frieden said. "We did not get to this situation over the past three decades because of any change in our genetics or any change in our food preferences. We got to this stage of the epidemic because of a change in our environment and only a change in our environment again will allow us to get back to a healthier place," he said.

More information

There's more on obesity and health at the American Heart Association.

SOURCES: July 27, 2009, teleconference with: Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Eric Finkelstein, Ph.D., director, RTI Public Health Economics Program, Research Triangle Park, NC; William H. Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., director, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; July 27, 2009, Health Affairs, online

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