The Utah Legislature and local governments should identify and address racial and socioeconomic disparities concerning obesity. Similar to many pivotal state-wide and national-level issues, in the examination of obesity data, crucial disparities exist and thrive along racial and socioeconomic boundaries. While obesity in terms of BMI is a somewhat back-burner issue in Utah, the numerous disparities uncovered by diligent research provide an opportunity for state and local governments to legislate to strengthen and improve holistic Utah health and to particularly improve health in underserved communities.

While Utah's percentage of obese and overweight individuals resides slightly below the national average, there are big-picture and long-term implications of health-based legislative intervention in unequal, disparaged communities. A focus on individual communities' build-up in various respects to establish an overall healthy Utah population and healthy Utah communities is necessary and overdue.

As mentioned previously, obesity is a perceived non-issue in Utah. However, political attentiveness and policy interventions serve essential purposes regarding obesity. Such attentiveness promotes a modernized understanding of the need to support and encourage healthy communities based on numerous factors aside from the proportion of overweight or obese individuals. Bolstering, more generally robust, and holistically healthy communities, especially underserved communities, could spur long-term economic and societal benefits based on many factors such as improved quality of life, mental health, and community safety.

The disparities in specific communities with relevance in the discussion on obesity provide unique and valuable opportunities to strengthen Utah's health and the inequity faced by racially and socioeconomically disadvantaged subsets. Changes could incorporate reassessments and revisions to individual communities' built environments and how counties and cities understand and legislate based on well-rounded health needs and desires. Drawing attention to these discussions and the benefit of prioritizing Utah communities' health in varying fashions is crucial for the long-term.

Wyatt Hudgens

Salt Lake City

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