Childhood Obesity – time to really look in the mirror

childhood obesityA new childhood obesity campaign is launching in my area this week.

The campaign is multiprong and very interesting. On the public facing side, the campaign is targeting parents with the hope to get parents to stop buying the foods that are contributing to the problem. On the educational side, the foundation has a very robust web site and targets healthy changes for life. And, seems to promote small changes over time without quick fix promises.

If a child is overweight, that child knows and so do the child’s parents. It is not being mean to factually state there is a problem. If a child is struggling in math, we don’t call that child stupid – we get that child help. If a child has a broken arm or needs braces, we take the child to specialists and tackle the problem. Childhood obesity needs to be handled the same way. Address the problem, find solutions for the problem. It really is that simple – to start. What isn’t simple is shedding the pounds and undoing unhealthy habits. That will take time.

This campaign looks at the big picture – the parent end and the child end. It looks at the big picture of a family, of all our families. Time will tell how successful it will be but just by naming the elephant in the room I think this campaign is already moving more boulders on the childhood obesity front than other campaigns. I’m still hunting for the billboards but I’m told they show obese kids and parents with messages about healthy eating. If talking and writing about this topic are failing to make an impact, perhaps the more visual, multimedia approach will finally work.

The only way for this campaign, or any obesity campaign, to be successful is for us to all recognize that a true partnership is needed involving the kids, parents, schools and health community. It won’t be an easy path for many but the benefits will truly last a life time and hopefully future children will be better of for the mistakes we’ve all made to date.

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  1. The Laundress says:

    Hi Dr. Gwenn,

    We recently got a school district “Wellness Policy Reminder” sent home with our third grade boy. Ramping up for Valentine’s Day, the school wanted to remind all parents that candies and cookies are NOT acceptable.

    Only low-fat string cheese, air-popped popcorn, and stickers and pencils will be allowed in Valentines. All other goodies shall be confiscated at the door.

    Hell, we never get our act together in this household beyond buying superheroes Valentines at the grocery store on Feb. 13.

    But this “Wellness Policy” bugs me. Has provoked a flurry of angry letters to our silly weekly newspaper too.

    Yep, lots of kids are fat, but do you think getting rid of those goofy candy hearts is going to help things?

    Perhaps it is just my misplaced nostalgia, but when I was little we played kickball and softball, had snowball fights and tag games, wholesome stuff like that, until after dark. Things were certainly NOT wholesome, but I was much more active than my own kids are, at the same ages.

    They do a lot more structured activity, like swimming lessons, soccer team, etc. But I did a whole lot of daily playing (NO adult supervision and things did get rough at times).

    Maybe the problem is not special treats on holidays, just overall inactivity.

    Do you think our school district policy will help? It makes me think, that part is okay. But does seem creepily Big Brotherish.

    quizzically yours,

  2. DrGwenn says:

    Hi TL:

    I so agree with you. Our elementary school is now having an optional healthy snack option which I don’t disagree with. But, snacks in school is not the culprit – it’s the food at home, the lack of activity, the lack of education about healthy eating and moving. I could go on and on! In fact, I’d argue learning to snack responsibly is part of healthy eating and living!

    Dr. G