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Monday, October 19, 2009

No New Fat Kids..! It's All About Zero to 5 Year Olds

Let's look at the stats. And please don't email me about exceptions. Yep, there's always gonna be an exception to the rule. But when it comes to obesity, we're concentrating on the overwhelming majority, not the small percentage suffering rare medical conditions like Prader-Willi, Cushings Syndrome or Rx reactions.

Back to the stats:

Everyone who's fat now is going to stay fat.

I hate that stat. But it's true 95% of the time. It doesn't have to be. People are capable of making permanent changes to their lifestyle choices. But the numbers don't lie--they're not gonna do it. And we certainly aren't cocooning anybody in a health-affirming food culture to make it any easier.

It's also true that eating one's way up to obesity or starving oneself down to scrawny can have a lasting if not permanent physiological impact. The net effect is a metabolism less cooperative than before. Still doesn't mean anybody HAS to stay obese, I'm just sayin'...

So if we have limited resources, and this obesity crisis is genuinely a public health emergency, what do we do??

We refuse to allow even one more child to become overweight.

To reverse obesity in America, we're gonna have to concentrate on the pre-pregnancy to 5 year-old set--before their eating habits, exercise patterns and body compositions have been set. This has been my mantra for 5 years... Zero-to-5-yr-olds-Zero-to-5-yr-olds-Zero-to-5-yr-olds...

Try convincing one of our Rice Krispie-lovin' preschoolers that she's having an apple for dessert. Btw, 20% of America's preschoolers are already overweight or obese.

So what we need is an all-out marketing campaign and incentive program to convince parents-to-be to be healthy BEFORE EVER conceiving. (Fat dads are 6x more likely to have fat sons. Fat moms are 10x more likely to have fat daughters.) And of course we know that obesity results in a higher incidence of all sorts of health problems for the next generation--including birth defects. (Darwin, is that you calling??)

What in the world is junk food doing in our daycare centers and YMCAs? Again, if there's no crisis, please ignore me. But if child obesity is the health crisis of our lifetime, then maybe we don't need juice, Capri Suns, crackers, candy, cupcakes, cookies, and an entire array of high-sugar, refined carb, transfatty empty calories imbedded among our most vulnerable population.

Now, if we're conducting an experiment to see how quickly we can foster a generation of insulin-dependent, type 2 diabetic tykes, then we're lookin' good. Big Pharma smiles upon us...

But the objective is to give each kid a chance to grow up healthy--all part of the "pursuit of happiness" ideology outlined in our Declaration of Independence. Without health, there is no pursuit of happiness.

Let's start with the YMCA. It's the nation's largest provider of daycare with 500,000 children in their daycare centers and nearly 10 million kids in their recreational programs. I've begged and pleaded with the YMCA for 3 years now to establish a nationwide nutrition standard and to dump Pepsi as a partner. (Sign this petition along with America's most-respected physicians who echo my pleas to the Y.) But this plea for a safe and healthy environment goes out to all childcare centers: KinderCare (I keep calling. When will we meet??), you too Creme de la Creme, Bright Horizons, Goddard School, Primrose...All of you can make this change to safeguard children's health. Are you willing? Are people finally listening to me??

Obesity Prevention Checklist:

All ob/gyn offices must offer educational series on healthful eating.

Formula pushers must be pushed off the premises and quickly replaced by breast-pump perks.

New weight-gain guidelines for pregnant mothers must be finalized. (Hooray for the advancements so far!)

Daycare centers must submit to the highest nutritional standards as part of their licensing process. (Thank you, Dr. Lynn Silver of the NYC Dept of Health for all you've done so far..!)

Pediatrician offices must feel obliged to talk nutrition with their patients and their patients's parents. (Think about the Obamas. Michelle says it was their family doctor who tipped them off they had a child weight issue and needed to change the way the family was eating.)

Junk food has to be removed from all schools. Period. Pls don't talk to me about diet sodas, organic juice and baked chips.

Marketing junk food to children has to end--tv, magazines, food promos in school, Happy Meal tie-ins--all of it. We've debated the harmful effects of marketing junk food to kids since the Carter administration. Time to call the question?

Kids must have easy access to safe indoor/outdoor, year-round recreational facilities. All kids.

Produce must be accessible and affordable to all Americans. Gonna subsidize? Forget corn and go w/ broccoli and avocados.

Schools and Daycare centers must be graded on their compliance to "Wellness Policies" and administrators assessed and paid accordingly.

We gotta get kids hooked on water, not sweetened drinks. Pass that blasted Soda Tax too...so we can raise some cash while curbing consumption.

There's more to do, but this post is too long already. You get it. No NEW fat kids. Nada. We'll graduate ourselves out of this crisis within the next 10 years.

Imagine all the misery that never has to happen if we do this...

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