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February 26, 2014 at 6:24 AM

Increased vigilance needed to prevent, treat obesity

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicates obesity rates have dropped among some toddlers, but the overall prevalence of the disease in kids and adults remains high.

Public health policies must continue to focus on prevention, especially among kids.

At the national level, First Lady Michelle Obama has fought hard to combat childhood obesity by launching the Let’s Move! campaign. She has appeared on Sesame Street and on late-night television numerous times to convince people of all ages to be active and to make healthful eating choices.

Here she is with Big Bird in the White House kitchen:

And here’s a hilarious (and highly effective) video encouraging Americans to be active, featuring the First Lady and “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon in a segment called “Evolution of Mom Dancing”:

Obama makes exercise look fun and hip, but for many Americans— changing behavior is incredibly difficult.

Though this New York Times news story highlights a promising 43 percent drop in obesity among 2 and 5-year-old children over the last ten years, the CDC reported no significant reductions among other groups during that same period.

Overall, childhood obesity has tripled in adolescents over the last three decades. Immediate health effects include high cholesterol, pre-diabetes and loss of self-esteem. Obese adults are more likely to suffer from various cancers, type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

Public health policies have helped to cut tobacco use in half over the last 50 years. The same should be done to end the obesity epidemic.

In this Wednesday’s editorial,  The Seattle Times applauds recent successes in lowering obesity rates among 8th, 10th and 12th graders in King County schools thanks to an influx of funding focused on prevention efforts. (Read Seattle Times reporter Lornet Turnbull’s news story.) Some schools updated workout equipment. Others altered menus to be more nutritional.

Here’s an excerpt:

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report that highlighted a significant decrease in obesity rates among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students in (Communities Putting Prevention to Work) schools in King County, from about 11 percent of students in 2010 to nearly 9 percent in 2012. Within those two years, the odds of a student being obese declined by 9 percent.

In nonparticipating schools, those numbers remained unchanged.

This experiment proves that targeted investments in prevention and intervention can be effective, even in low-income areas with high rates of the disease.

Here’s a link to more information on the 17 percent decrease in obesity rates among key King County youth.

Also worth noting is Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Healthiest Next Generation” initiative, which passed the state House of Representatives and is currently in the Senate Health Care Committee. House Bill 2643 would establish private-public partnerships to lower childhood obesity by creating more breastfeeding-friendly and healthy school environments. A public hearing was held on Monday. Senators should send the bill to the floor before Friday’s cut-off deadline.

Comments | More in Video | Topics: cdc, childhood obesity, michelle obama


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