I’m Comptroller Susan Combs. When they say everything’s bigger in Texas, they’re not kidding. We have four of the ten most obese cities in the country, and nearly two thirds of our adult population is overweight or obese. Such an epidemic has not only massive health implications but also a huge impact on our economy. In 2005 obesity cost Texas businesses $3.3 billion in absenteeism, disability, decreased productivity, and health care expenditures. By 2025, when today’s grade-schoolers will be in the workforce, we could be looking at $15.8 billion a year in obesity-related costs if we don’t deal with the problem.
In the late seventies, when I was a prosecutor in Dallas, I handled child abuse and neglect cases. I had a case where a mother had starved her four-year-old twins—each child weighed sixteen pounds. The phrase I kept hearing was “failure to thrive.” We saw case after case where a child’s brain functioning had been altered because of inadequate nutrition.
Fast-forward to 2002. I was ending