Former Pres. Clinton says obesity threatens economy, launches fitness initiative


Obesity in America, Obesity in the News

Former President Bill Clinton spoke during a national forum on childhood obesity at the Peabody Little Rock hotel earlier this week, and he announced a new fitness program to help kids get moving.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette story is behind a paywall, but the San Francisco Chronicle posted a brief about the keynote:

Clinton spoke in Little Rock on Sunday at a national forum on childhood obesity and said staying healthy would help Americans have more money in their pockets.

Clinton says U.S. residents spend almost 18 percent of their income on health care and that making healthy choices would drive that number down.

Clinton’s foundation and the American Heart Association founded the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which in 2006 launched the Healthy Schools Program to provide training and educational resources to schools.

A story on gives a bit more detail about the announcement:

The Fit for a Healthier Generation campaign features pre-recorded, 3-5 minute physical activity breaks aimed at getting kids up, moving and having fun throughout the day. The fitness breaks DVDs were produced by Watch It Now Entertainment, a leader in fitness production. The fitness program BOKS, an initiative of the Reebok Foundation, will sponsor the distribution of the more than 30,000 DVDs to communities all across the country.

“Less than 4 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools, and 2 percent of high schools provide opportunities for daily physical education,” said President Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and co-founder of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, via release. “By bringing together some of the leading experts on physical activity in the country, we can show the benefits of living fit and help kids lead healthier lives.”

American Academy of Pediatrics launches plan to fight childhood obesity


Obesity in the News

Looks like the AAP is getting on board with all of the initiatives being launched to combat childhood obesity. I wanted to include this for those who are watching all of the different groups that are joining the cause. Note that Nestle — also backing the efforts of the World Health Organization against obesity — is providing a good bit of the funding here.

Here’s the story:

The American Academy of Pediatrics is launching a major new initiative in its fight against childhood obesity, focusing on both prevention and treatment of what has become a major threat to children’s health in the U.S. The new AAP Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight, to be launched Oct. 20-23 at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans, will lead the academy’s efforts in providing pediatricians, families and communities with evidence-based resources to help prevent and treat childhood obesity.

“Obesity is epidemic in childhood and presents a threat to both child health and to health across the lifespan,” said Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, chair of the steering committee of the Institute. “Pediatricians are in the best position to combat childhood obesity because they are dedicated to children’s health and well-being and build long-term, trusting relationships with families. The Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight will provide pediatricians and other professionals with the tools and knowledge they need to provide care that begins with research and ends in real results.”

The Institute, housed within the AAP, will be funded by a diverse base of corporate sponsors and grants from government and foundations that understand and support the mission and vision of the Institute. As the founding sponsor, Nestlé is providing the substantial funding required to launch the Institute.

Mexico leads world in soda consumption, World Health Organization planning to fight it


Obesity in the News

We’re not the only ones worried about obesity and how it’s affecting our health. Officials in Mexico are now launching a plan to combat childhood obesity.

Check this report:

Mexicans are the world champions in soft drink consumption, guzzling down 163 liters (43 gallons) of sweet bubbly drinks per capita every year, according to Consumer Power, an independent organization.
Food stands are everywhere on Mexican streets, dishing out handfuls of greasy tacos for just $1, while ambulant vendors wait outside schools to sell cheap tamales or tortas (sandwiches) to hungry students.
To nutritionist Tamara Vera, Mexico suffers from “bad nutrition and bad habits like a lack of exercise, a lack of water consumption and too much grease and sugar.”
The education ministry, with the help of various embassies, led a campaign called “The Week of Taste” in 124 schools this week to teach children better eating habits. The masked and muscular stars from the country’s ultra-popular Lucha Libre, or professional wrestling, circuit have been recruited by the government to help drill new eating habits into people’s consciousness.
But Education Minister Jose Angel Cordova warned that it would take time to reduce child obesity, stressing that a “new culture” must be instilled in families and Mexican society at large.
“The (child) obesity problem arrived over 30 years and maybe we won’t need 30 years (to reduce it), but we will need at least 10 years to stabilize it,” he told reporters after a meeting of Latin American education ministers.
In addition, Reuters released a special report about the World Health Organization using the dollars from soda companies and other food industry leaders to combat the problem. Will that create a conflict of interest?

As the world’s foremost health agency, the World Health Organization bills itself as an impartial advocate working on behalf of 194 member nations.

Its mission as the public health arm of the United Nations ranges from stanching communicable diseases such as malaria and AIDS to battling what the U.N. considers the latest “global epidemic”: chronic ailments such as diabetes and heart disease caused primarily by unhealthy diets.

But to fight those diseases in Mexico, the nation with the world’s highest rate of obese and overweight adults, a Reuters investigation found that WHO’s regional office has turned to the very companies whose sugary drinks and salty foods are linked to many of the maladies it’s trying to prevent.

The office, the Pan American Health Organization, not only is relying on the food and beverage industry for advice on how to fight obesity. For the first time in its 110-year history, it has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in money from the industry.

Heavy lifting for ambulance crews: EMTs experiencing effects of increasing obesity


Obesity in the News

Interesting article in the Hartford Courant about EMTs lifting heavy patients. Just as we’re seeing larger chairs and sofas to accommodate the trend, the medical world is using larger stretchers, hospital beds, and ambulances.

Check it out:

Emergency medical technicians have long shared a Murphy’s Law kind of reckoning about obese patients: for every additional floor in a building, the patient will weigh 100 more pounds.

It’s dark humor among men and women with an often grim, strenuous job, but obesity rates are rising throughout the state and nation, and a recently released report says the ranks of the morbidly obese will continue to balloon.

The task of transporting patients who weigh at least 100 pounds more than they should is now a daily reality in Connecticut and throughout the nation. The job strains ambulance crews, causing widespread back injuries, and piles financial burdens on both volunteer companies and professional providers.

“We’ve always had to deal with big people,” said Glenn Luedtke,safety committee chairman of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, “but nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see someone who’s 300 pounds into the 400-pound range.”

Beehive of activity: More coverage of Bee Tees in the news


Obesity in the News, Obesity Initiative at UGA

Excellent. Bee Tees is continuing to find coverage, and this week it’s in Columns as “Beehive of activity: Professors team up to develop video games to assist in obesity fight.

Here’s a snippet:

Video games aren’t to blame for childhood obesity. In fact, they can help, according to a group of UGA professors.

“If you can get to kids early and help them understand their physiology, the more they can appreciate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle,” said Tom Robertson, associate professor of physiology and pharmacology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Robertson, along with a host of other UGA professors who make up IS3D LLC, work to create educational games that teach children about healthy choices.

Robertson has been quite helpful this semester with several obesity-related stories. More background on this one: “Bee Tees,” a play on the word “diabetes,” features a beehive that the player manages through inputs and outputs to keep the hive healthy.

The professors hope this will be a fun way to start the conversation with students about understanding diabetes and weight gain. They have similar interactive software in the works for high school and university-age students as well. I’ll bring those stories to you soon!


UGA Food Services offers mobile ‘Build Your Plate’ option


Food Ingredients & Obesity, Obesity Initiative at UGA

Cool new development with Food Services, which will likely play a part in the Healthy Dawgs team of the Obesity Initiative.

Now students can use a mobile version of the “Build Your Plate” website to navigate through menu options and calculate nutritional information.

From the UGA News release:

Diners have two options for viewing nutritional information-by selecting a single item or by assembling a meal from multiple items. The first step is to go to on a smartphone or tablet, select Build Your Plate and then navigate through the calendar, locations and menus to create a meal.

“Whether students want to see the menu and build their plate before entering the dining commons or review the information while in line or even after their meal, the mobile Build Your Plate feature makes it easy for students to make good meal choices,” said Jeanne Fry, executive director of Food Services.

Endocrinologist group proposes obesity certification for doctors


Obesity in the News

Wow. Check this out, written by a friend (and former Red & Black editor-in-chief) about the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. They plan to develop a certification for physicians who treat obesity. The program will likely include formal education in obesity medicine.

From MedPage Today:

“With today’s understanding of obesity as a complex hormonal, neuronal, and metabolic disease with derangement of energy balance leading to multiple comorbidities, it is clear that highly trained and qualified endocrinologists can provide clinical leadership and mentoring in this area,” the association said in a position statement published in the September/October issue of its journal, Endocrine Practice.

A certification program is the next logical step for the endocrinologists given the metabolic processes obesity involves, and physicians could better tag-team the epidemic, the statement explained. The position statement doesn’t reveal details about certification.

“The certification in obesity medicine expertise is intended for physicians board-certified in endocrinology and metabolism,” AACE spokesman Glenn Sebold told MedPage Today. “Therefore, this certification will not compete with any other program.”

Other medical societies have offered similar programs for their members. For example, the newly formed American Board of Obesity Medicine — formerly the American Board of Bariatric Medicine — is offering a certification program for the first time. Nearly 250 physicians are registered to take the first exam when it’s offered next month.


Speaker series: Halloween lecture links behaviors that influence eating


Obesity Initiative at UGA

It’s coming up soon! A reminder about the lecture, as well as a few more details sent out in a news release today by the College of Family and Consumer Sciences:
Leann L. Birch, director of the center for childhood obesity at Penn State University, will discuss her research on the behavioral factors that influence how people eat on Oct. 31 from 12:20-1:10 p.m. in room 110 of Dawson Hall.
Her lecture is titled “Factors that Influence the Developing Controls of Food Intake from Infancy through Adolescence.”
Birch, a distinguished professor of human development in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State, has conducted research for more than 30 years focusing on food intake from infancy through through adolescence.
One of her ongoing research projects explores the relationships that exist between feeding, sleeping and growth in infants during the first year of life and their subsequent influence on children’s eating habits, growth and weight. A second project looked at the benefits of providing young children with larger servings of vegetables at the beginning of meals as a way of increasing their intake of nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods. Birch also conducted a 10-year longitudinal study exploring how young girls learn to control eating habits. The study’s focus was on the emergence of weight concerns, dieting and problems of energy balance, including childhood obesity and disordered eating.
“While dieting and eating disorders have been viewed as problems that emerge during adolescence,” Birch said, “our research with 5- to 11-year-olds reveals that these problems begin much earlier, prior to puberty, and that they are linked to parents’ own eating and weight issues and to parents’ child-feeding practices.”
Birch’s presentation is sponsored by the College of Family and Consumer Sciences department of foods and nutrition and the University of Georgia Obesity Initiative. It is the second in a series that will continue into the spring.
“Dr. Birch’s presentation represents our ongoing efforts to identify experts in childhood obesity across the country who are conducting translational research,” said Lynn Bailey, the college’s foods and nutrition department head. “Based on her world-renowned reputation, we’re confident Dr. Birch’s insight will help us as we continue to search for ways that involve families, schools and other caregivers in reducing the risks of childhood obesity.”

Students join obesity discussion at early ages, becoming activists


Obesity in the News

Students are getting involved in the conversation as part of the Southern Obesity Summit, so says the Charlotte Observer:

Now in its sixth year, the three-day Southern Obesity Summit aims to raise awareness about healthy eating habits and ways that people improve access to healthy food in their communities, said Katherine Randall, spokeswoman for Youth Empowered Solutions, which is hosting the summit along with the Texas Health Institute.

And for the first time this year, the summit focused on what youths can do to help fight obesity.

Harris said she was excited that young people participated this year. After all, she said, obesity affects all ages, and healthy habits should start early to be most effective.

This fun piece from Washington Post’s Education blog:

Just call her a mini Michelle Obama.

Like the FLOTUS, Jodi Evans, a fourth-grader from Bowie, is on a mission to improve the eating habits of the nation’s children.

Jodi, 9, is one of 21 students nationwide who were selected to serve on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory Board.

The board is one of the only youth-led groups in the country that focuses on issues related to childhood obesity, according to the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, which founded the alliance. And Jodi, a student at Robert Goddard French Immersion School in Prince George’s County, is its youngest member.

“It is important for youth to have a voice in the fight against childhood obesity because youth influence other youth,” Jodi said.

OI in the News: Speaker series with updated times and locations


Obesity in the News, Obesity Initiative at UGA

Don’t forget to attend the fantastic Obesity Initiative speaker events coming up. There was an article in this week’s Columns that appeared yesterday, and we have updated times/locations/details for you:

• Oct. 25, 3-4 p.m. in 481 Tate Student Center: “When Nature Meets Nurture: Epigenetic Effects of Prenatal Exposures”  by Alicia Smith, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University. Smith studies the role of genetic and environmental factors in the development and symptoms of stress-related disorders across the lifespan.

• Oct. 31, 12:20-1:10 p.m. in 110 Dawson Hall: “Factors that Influence the Developing Controls of Food Intake from Infancy through Adolescence” by  Leann Birch, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Pennsylvania State -University. Birch’s research focuses on both predictors and consequences of eating behavior.

• Nov. 1, 2-3 p.m. in 137 Tate Student Center: “Relationships and Cardiovascular Health” by Timothy Smith, professor of psychology at the University of Utah. Smith’s research addresses personality and social risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

• Nov. 7, 2:30-3:30 p.m. in Coverdell Center 175: “What’s Between Fat and Bone?” by Clifford J. Rosen, director of clinical and translational research and a senior scientist at Maine Medical Center’s Research Institute. Rosen is the founder and former director of the Maine Center for Osteoporosis Research and Education.

• Feb. 6, 12:20- 1:10 in Room 104 Conner Hall: “Regulation of Excess Fat Deposition During Growth and Development: Novel Strategies for Prevention and Treatment” by Michael Goran, director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center and University of Southern California Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer, as well as the co-director of the USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute and professor of preventative medicine, physiology and biophysics, and pediatrics. Goran’s research is focused on understanding the metabolic factors linking obesity to increased disease risk during growth and development and using this information as a basis for developing new behavioral and community approaches for prevention and risk reduction.