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I was lucky enough to be riding my bike on a beautiful fall day recently when my “Biking friends” and I passed a soccer field of one of the private schools in Charlotte. The school was at the top of a hill so we stopped for a moment to rest and watch the kids play on the playground. Two things immediately struck me as we watched the children– first, the diversity of the racial backgrounds of the kids on that field. I think of the forty or so children out on the field running around, every ethnic group was represented, all playing with one another without any apparent animosity or segregation. I found that very refreshing and encouraging. The other thing I noticed was that there was not one child on the field who was overweight–not one! This is not the norm in America these days where 35% of children are now overweight and 20% are obese. So in today’s pedcast, I thought we might do a thought experiment to see if we can explain why these children seem to be different than the average group of kids in America today; why weren’t there overweight and obese kids on that playground? Continue reading
Finding a way to reduce the number of over-nourished children is one of the great challenges for our society today. Health experts are fairly certain that by eliminating obesity among children, we will greatly be able to reduce the number of today’s children who go on to become diabetic, have heart disease, and cancers. We urgently need a way to help a lot of obese children.
New research reveals that early intervention for obese children has a reasonable chance of success. Investigators found that intensive education for families with obese 6-9 year olds had a 44% chance of lowering the obese child’s BMI. If the same intervention was done for the obese 10-13 year olds, only 20% of these children were successful at lowering their BMI. The news was even worse for the obese 14-16 year olds, with a success rate of only 8%. Could it be that, as a general rule, the earlier an intervention is begun, the more effective it will be? This fact is certainly true when it comes to the treatment of autism, the treatment of inborn errors of metabolism that some children inherit, and the prevention of problems seen in children who experience psycho-social deprivation to name a few. It is beginning to look like the smart thing for society to do is to spend its biggest resources at prevention when children are very young as opposed to spending money later in their lives when intervention is much less likely to be successful. This recent study certainly gives us something to think about. Until next time.
1. Response of severely obese children and adolescents to behavioral treatment. Danielsson P, Kowalski J, Ekblom Ö, Marcus C. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012 Dec;166(12):1103-8. doi: 10.1001/2013.jamapediatrics.319.