Obesity is the pathway to a wide range of health maladies we face, including heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease--and the economic malady of high health care costs. James R. Knickman, Founder and CEO of NYS Health Foundation, The Huffington Post, 12.14.10
As a physician, I am always looking for treatments. But with obesity, the available treatments in no way match the size of the problem. We must find effective ways to prevent obesity. Jeanne Clark, MD, MPH Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, paraphrased from presentation at Super-Sized World Conference, NYAS, 12.09.10
What can be done about the obesity crisis? First off, we have to recognize that it is a genuine crisis and that the rates of obesity are climbing at alarming rates both here and abroad. (Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the last 30 years!) Part of this recognition must be to eschew the "food wars" sniping that seems to reduce the obesity problem to a question of whether school bake sales should be "outlawed" or not. Homemade cookies, or homemade food of any kind, are not fueling these obesity rates!
Parents and families are perhaps the most important resource in the fight against childhood obesity. Rather than alienating or berating parents, we have to educate them about healthy food and lifestyle choices, being sure to promote fresh food is delicious and just as fun as "fast food." Good food shouldn't be demonized or seen as "punishment" or "medicine." This discussion should be taking place in pediatricians' offices, at PTA meetings, on the playground, and in the workplace. This is not about taking away bake sales or occasional treats; this is about creating a "norm" of what a healthy balanced life looks like and feels like. Of course, I feel like regular family dinner is an important part of what normal healthy eating looks like. Encouraging family dinner is one route to promoting healthy families.
Just as there is no single villain, no single intervention may be enough, be it better school lunches, or a soda tax, or more physical education at school. Many things must come into play in order to really see a difference and reverse this trend in childhood obesity. Family dinner is a good place to start.
Obesity: We Need an All-out Campaign, James Knickman, 12.14.10