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Obesity: Minnesota Fat vs. Minnesota Lean

Minnesotans have the chance to take control of obesity or let it take control over them according to a report released Wednesday by Blue Cross and Blue Shields of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health. If obesity is left uncontrolled health care cost will rise and workplace productivity will suffer.

The Pioneer Press gave a portrait of the two directions Minnesotans could take in the fight against obesity.

Fast food, sweetened drinks, low-impact jobs and activities, and dependency on cars contribute to the rising rate in obesity.

If current trends continue 76 percent of adults will be obese or overweight by 2020. According to Dr. Marc Manle of Blue Cross, "If we ignore obesity and allow current trends to continue, health care cost are going to rise dramatically." Total health care cost would be about $5080 per capita.

Additionally, diabetes and heart disease would become more common and fewer companies would provide health plans.

If Minnesota levels remain the same as 2005, the percentage of obese or overweight adults will be 14 percent less than if the problem continues to esculate and only $4274 would be spent on health care per capita.

Dr. Sanne Magnan of the State Health Commission said, "we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work tackling obesity. It's a community effort."

Minnesotan can tackle obesity by making better personal choices. Employers should encourage exercise and offer better food, and citizens would benefit if cities built trails.

The Star Tribune published a report Wednesday addressing the issue of obesity as well, but from a different standpoint.

They reported that two prominent obesity skeptics are debating two obesity experts in the British Medical Journal this week.

Patrick Basham and John Lunick are health policy experts at the conservatice Democracy institute and co-authors of "Diet Nation: Exposing the Obesity Crusade." They believe health risks of obesity are overblown. They said, "Media claims about an epidemic...often exceed the scientific evidence and mistakenly suggest an unjustified degree of certainty."

Nancy Sherwood, a researcher for Health Partners and Robert Jeffery, a professor at the University of Minnesota hold an opposing and more popular viewpoint. According to them the co-authors are singling out specific data and ignoring the whole body of research.

They say the body of research shows a clear trend.