|Commissioner of Agriculture Todd|
Staples told participants, “Taxpayers
are picking up the tab for poor
Commissioner Staples spoke to dozens of legislative staff and community and health care leaders at TPHC’s third University of Health forum focusing on obesity and its impact on Texas’ physical and fiscal health. Joining Commissioner Staples were Eduardo Sanchez, MD, Dallas family physician, TMA member, and vice president and chief medical officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas; and Michael Castellon, e-communications coordinator and editor at the Comptroller of Public Accounts.
Mr. Castellon revealed the disturbing truth: The Texas comptroller’s office found that in 2009 obesity cost Texas businesses an estimated $9.5 billion due to higher employee insurance costs, absenteeism, and other effects. Left unchecked, he said, obesity could cost employers $32.5 billion annually by 2030.
To combat this trend, Commissioner Staples said the focus needs to be on lifestyle changes through education and improved nutrition standards. The Department of Agriculture developed the 3E's of Healthy Living in Texas to tackle obesity: Education, Exercise, and Eating Right.
“We’ve placed a lot of emphasis on nutrition — which is good; nutrition is part of the issue,” he said. “But we are still losing the battle. We have the lunch room, we have the class room, and we have the living room. We have to send the right message in all three of those rooms if we are going to change people’s lifestyles. The lunch room alone is not getting the job done.”
Commissioner Staples called for action in the upcoming legislative session. “Studying [obesity] is not necessarily the answer,” he said. “We have the resources, we have the science, we have the programs. We’ve got to go into the ‘doing’ and not the ‘talking’ stage. We can do something about [obesity] but it is going to take us all working together.”