The Daily Astorian
In this season of overindulgence, the federal government has some good news: Obesity rates are leveling off after rising for the past quarter century. But don't rush to break out the crudités. A study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obesity Among Adults in the U.S.: No Significant Change in 2005-06, found that more than one-third of Americans - about 72 million - are classified as obese.
The CDC data state the obvious: Americans are consuming more higher calorie foods and not enough of the good things that mothers have long preached - fruits and vegetables. The CDC has made obesity one of its top health priorities because it is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and other medical maladies.
The drive for better nutrition has become part of the 2007 Farm Bill debate. Both the House-passed bill and the one approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee propose to infuse more federal dollars into specialty crop agriculture - fruits, vegetables, nuts and other crops that dominate farming in Western states. Farmers of these crops have operated outside the traditional farm support programs, and so far Congress appears willing to give them greater standing in setting federal farm policy for the next five years.