An alarming stat came out this week: 42% of the population will be obese in 2030, rising from 32% today. And the costs associated with treating those people will exceed $550 billion over the next two decades. The report was presented this week at a conference sponsored by the CDC, titled “Weight of the Nation,” in Washington D.C., as well as published in the American Journal for Preventive Medicine.
If there was ever any question about the problem of obesity and the troublesome ripple effect it triggers on the body and our healthcare system, then this glaringly stark reality should surely settle the debate. We are a nation of fatties. Harsh, yes, but true. And we are in denial.
There are many reasons “why” but one is certainly the problem of awareness, rather lack thereof. And by “awareness” I mean two different types: 1) Consumers simply not knowing they are obese or the ramifications of obesity, either because of their socioeconomic conditions, location, education level, or family heritage; and 2) Consumers that realize being overweight isn’t good but don’t fully grasp the effects that it has on your overall health, as well as the cyclical hand-me-down tendencies towards their posterity. Either way, we have a major awareness problem in today’s America.
No doubt there are many factors at play: our fast-food nation, self-discipline issues, sedentary lifestyles, increased stress levels, tough economies, etc. But awakening people to the true dangers of obesity is crucial. And that require education and awareness. (Of course it doesn’t hurt to remind them it ultimately hits their wallets, too, in increased healthcare costs and taxes.)
Understandably so the data has generated a slew of news stories. And, of course, a renewed focus in Washington with the political and legislative circles.
To reverse this trend will require changes and innovations throughout many organizations and industries across our country, including education, medical, political, legislative, and food and beverage, to name a few. But how far should we go in “legislating” rules and regulations to fight it? Do we “outlaw” french fries? Do we levy fines for companies not mandating exercise for their employees? Do we wipe out every sugary item available to our kids? No doubt that some reasonable changes are warranted. But we can’t go overboard and become a sanctioned society that expects the government to make us healthy through new, far-reaching regulations.
What about personal responsibility? Consumers must exercise self-control for good health outcomes – eating right, exercising, and reducing stress. But the ability to “self-police” varies from person to person and doesn’t come naturally for many. And you can’t make someone do something, especially if they aren’t fully educated and aware of why it matters so much.
So we come back to the question at hand: What can we do to divert us away from being a nation where 2/3 of adults and 1/3 of children are overweight, many approaching “obese”?
At SoloHealth, we believe in technological innovations that empower today’s consumer. We believe you must go to the people, where they are, and provide free and easy access to engage them to learn about their health. That’s why we developed the SoloHealth Station, an interactive, self-service kiosk that allows consumers to screen their vision, blood pressure, weight, and body mass index (BMI)—in minutes for free. The kiosk then provides an overall health assessment, access to a database of local physicians, and actionable health recommendations to improve their outcomes moving forward. In our eyes, it provides a portal for millions of consumers to access health screenings in a free, fast and self-service manner – many who would not regularly seek healthcare attention.
Early data from our nationwide testing are showing promising results: The kiosk is averaging more than 50 consumers per day; 4.5 minutes spent per user interacting with the kiosks; and more than 80% of consumers acted on data for follow-up care with a professional.
Those are strong results that show us the tremendous potential the SoloHealth Station has to reach millions of needy Americans, especially as we set to rollout nationwide later this year. We have agreements and partnerships with numerous industry leaders that share our socially responsible goal to connect, engage and empower consumers into action.
Of course our product is just one of many innovative technologies out there today. And it’ll take an aggregated approach anchored by new ideas and technologies that are supported by organizations, industries and the people to truly battle the problem.
We aren’t lacking in good ideas or strong technology. We need to merely make sure our efforts are reaching the target consumers in the most effective and efficient manner that scales. After all, every day that passes is another missed opportunity to bring awareness and education to the masses to empower them to act. And time isn’t on our side.