While reading the latest news on the subject of Health Policy, I came across this article in the New York Times. I was happy to see that Congress has approved some great initiatives that are a small step in the right direction for a positive change in the future health of the US.
First, I'm glad to see that the requirement for chain restaurants to post their nutrition information clearly on their menus is now going into affect across the entire country. I was glad when the law was passed in California in 2008 and I'm even happier that there will now be accountability for chain restaurants nationwide. I honestly have no idea why it took this long to happen in the first place! People should have the right to know what is in the food that they are eating in restaurant, just the same as they know the contents of their food when they purchase it at the grocery store. Whether or not a person chooses to look at the information is their choice, but it should be there none the less. Plus, this could have a small affect on obesity, since so many Americans eat out frequently. According to the article, since New York adopted the law, more customers are choosing lower calorie food choices as a result.
I'm also pleased that health insurance companies will now have to provide vaccines, recommended screenings and preventative care without charging the patient a co-pay or deductible. This is a huge win in my opinion. I can only imagine how many lives could be saved by detecting cancers and other diseases early enough to potentially treat them before it's too late.
Lastly, hurray for the new federal trust fund that is in place to create more bike paths, playgrounds, sidewalks and hiking trails! Increasing accessibility to areas that promote more physical activity, such as hiking trails is a way to get people out and exercising more regularly, thus improving overall health.
While I think that these new initiatives are such a good step in the right direction, there is so much more to be done. Some important actions that need to be taken include increasing education about the benefits of nutrition and physical activity in the schools, providing more access to better food, such as farmer's markets in lower-income areas and stricter regulation on fast food and soft drink industry advertisements.