Support the Fight against Childhood Obesity

Let’s support First Lady Michelle Obama in her effort to reduce the alarming rise in childhood obesity in our county, and the rise of both short- and long-term health problems that obesity causes through her program, Let’s Move!. Childhood obesity is arguably the greatest health crisis we face in our country.

In her September 2012 Parade interview, First Lady Obama boldly stated, “While we’ve seen some very profound cultural shifts, we still have communities that don’t have access to affordable and healthy foods… We need to impact the nature of food in grocery stores, especially in terms of sugar, fat, and salt… The program seeks to provide families with the simple tools needed to help kids be more active, eat better, and become healthier.”

Obesity rates in children ages 12-19
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, part of the CDC

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of overweight and obese children in the U.S. has tripled in the past 30 years. These statistics are alarming and disturbing to me, since we have learned childhood obesity sets the stage for a large spectrum of potential health problems, including cardiovascular issues, diabetes, joint problems, some cancers and, of course, an increased likelihood of being obese as an adult.

Donna Ryan, president of the Obesity Society, a group of weight-management researchers and professionals, was quoted as saying, “It’s crucial to address the problem early.  If you can get kids into healthier eating habits when they are younger, their weight may self-correct. But once they become obese adults, it’s difficult to reverse.”

I couldn’t agree more. Learning the right habits for health from the get-go is true preventive medicine.

I am honored to be involved through my blogs, websites, and the books I’ve written on the subjects of children’s nutrition and health. I am also honored that my clinic, Preventive Medical Center of Marin, has a number of programs and practitioners specializing in areas of children’s health and weight management, including a family weight loss and management program that involves parents and children with a plan together. To find out more, just email us at julie@pmcmarin.com.

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Our Children’s Health Is Our Nation’s Future

As many of you know, children’s health and childhood obesity prevention are subjects I have been talking and writing about for decades.  The genesis of my interest in the health of children comes from my own early life, when I needed to overcome my own childhood obesity.

What I have come to realize over the years is that we need a complete re-education for our families and children, with the support of our local, state, and federal governments and school systems in order to instill in children awareness and incentives for better habits and choices in their foods. This is a continual challenge in the shadows of the multi-billion-dollar processed and fast food industries, the giant sugar soda conglomerates, and mega agriculture. In order to make this change in our children’s health outcomes, it will require a consistent and tireless effort. It matters what we do, and how and what we consume. But our bodies and health are worth it!

Earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama stated:

“While budgets are tight right now, there are schools across the country that are showing that it doesn’t take a whole lot of money or resources to give our kids the nutrition they deserve. What it does take, however, is effort. What it does take is imagination. What it does take is a commitment to our children’s futures.”

This is great clarity from our woman leader who clearly cares about children and health. And it appears that science is now supporting Ms. Obama’s campaign.

State laws that curb the sale of junk food in schools may be helping combat childhood obesity, according to the findings of a new study published on August 13, 2012 in the medical journal Pediatrics. The study was conducted over three years and involved more than 6,000 children in 40 states.

In the first U.S. study to measure the impact of state laws that effect the sale of sugary snacks and drinks, researchers found that children in grades five through eight who live in states with stronger laws gained less weight than kids in states without such laws.

“It really shows that there can be an effect — a positive effect — by curbing the sale of junk food and sweetened drinks,” said Dr. Keith Ayoob, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City (Dr. Ayoob was not involved in the study).

These findings are adding further “weight” to increasing optimism among public health experts.

And while lessening junk food in school is a good start, it’s critical that healthy habits extend beyond the classroom, “That’s where maybe parents can have a bigger impact,” said Dr. Ayoob.

Furthermore, when we begin to use these principles at home and with the entire family, less junk and less sugary foods, more fresh and wholesome choices—we will make a bigger difference in health, both immediate and long term.

So as you prepare your kids for heading back to school, make packing a healthy school lunch a priority, even if your kids occasionally trade in those carrots for a cookie. Here are a few ingredients that make a healthy lunch.

  • Sandwiches made with good-quality, nutritious whole grain bread. Try tuna salad, turkey (oven-roasted or other nitrite-free packaged or deli turkey). Add almond or other nut butter with a natural fruit jam or sliced banana and honey.
  • An apple or apple slices in a small sealed container
  • Other sliced fruit or a whole orange or banana
  • Raisins (organic and sulfite-free if possible)
  • Almonds or other nuts or seeds in a small baggie or container
  • Sliced carrots or celery, possibly with a dip
  • Healthy leftovers from last night’s dinner
  • Juice and water mixture, or just water, in a small thermos (or send it cold to keep the rest of the lunch cool)

Read more tips and guidelines on how to nourish your children and live healthfully NOW!