New York Times: Reducing Adult and Child Obesity
Author: New York Times
Posted: December 29, 2015

Professor Larry Wallack responds to the Op Ed “Fighting Obesity Is Not Just for Kids” from the Dec. 18 issue of the New York Times:


To the Editor:

Dr. Thomas A. Farley makes important points in arguing to expand our focus to the 38 percent of adults who are obese. However, the progress he notes, as indicated by falling obesity rates among young children, is incomplete.

What we do know is that any gains in obesity reductions over all are largely concentrated in better-educated and higher-income populations. This masks the fact that those who are most vulnerable are falling further behind when it comes to health.

While Dr. Farley may be right that the seven in 10 adults who are overweight include plenty of Ph.D.s, there is no doubt that those at the lower end of the social gradient are more likely to be overweight or obese and more likely to suffer increased disability and premature death because of it.

We must develop policies to ensure that progress on public health problems extends to all populations; otherwise, we will contribute to the growing inequitable health divide in our country that drains resources and crushes human potential.


Portland, Ore.

The writer is a professor and director of the Center for Public Health Studies, School of Community Health, Portland State University.