Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Obesification: Killing Our Kids

I found this fascinating.

Yesterday we saw a young family, the parents and two little girls probably 8 to 10 years old. The parents were noticeably overweight but not what I'd call obviously obese. I'd say average based on the majority of people I see these days. But the little girls were both fat, in my opinion, at least working on obese.

I wonder, what are these kids eating, how much are they eating and what, and what are they doing all the time?

Allow me to rant for a while.

Obesity is one of the most pressing issues we have to deal with not only here in this country but worldwide, as it's spreading. Pun not intended.

This video caught my eye not only because I'm interested in the topic, but I used to work for this organization, Scottsdale Healthcare, it's a good hospital system and good place to work, doing some cutting edge work in certain areas like bariatrics.

I first saw this in one of the e-mail medical newsletters I read daily.

Diabetes is an extremely costly disease. The complications: cardiovascular disease, neuropathies, infections, organ dysfunction especially of the kidneys and eyes. Limb loss. Sepsis. Dialysis. Premature death.

We also need to attempt to stop it before it happens, like not letting people get to a BMI of 30 in the first place, even though some people are more likely to go there due to genetic influences. The video doesn't talk about changing behavior early on, intervening before a person starts to become obese and the metabolic signaling results in diabetes.

Years ago people were not so fat. They were more active. They didn't have the range of sedentary activities to keep them mesmerized. There wasn't the range of bad food, and the ingredients, and the portion sizes.

There is a huge genetic influence on obesity. But that doesn't mean we throw up our hands and say, wait until the person is diabetic then give them a sleeve gastrectomy.
We need thinkers like Dr. Blackstone to manage the medical approach to this disease, but we also need more action on the prevention end of things. We certainly aren't doing enough lifestyle interventions to help solve the problem.

Bad workplace habits, poor city planning, commuting time, work schedules, stress, availability of healthy foods, poor food choices, lack of leisure time, poor leisure time choices, lack of physical education that truly teaches kids how to develop healthy lifestyles, all of these things and more add up to what? Sleeve gastrectomies?


Simple things! Behavioral, exercise and nutritional screening, screening for tobacco and alcohol consumption, electronics use and TV watching. Intervening in each of these areas through real, solid active approaches. Doctors aren't necessarily good examples at all.

I'd like to see total screening in preventive care as an ongoing intervention, with education and practice throughout the lifespan. It doesn't belong primarily in the domain of preventive health care in a doctors' offices. The schools could play a huge role, along with the community organizations that sponsor youth activities. What to eat, how to cook, what to buy, what to avoid. How to increase activity, emphasizing less sedentary time. Adults and children need it.

As people get older, include thyroid screening. You wouldn't believe how many patients I see, they tell me they're tired all the time. When I look at their labs, I see elevated TSH and they're not on thyroid meds. When I ask about it, they look perplexed. Many cancer treatments can affect thyroid function but many of these patients are not getting treatment for cancer.

The thing is, we already know all this stuff. We know what would work. But there's a lack of organized, coordinated societal effort. In the video, Dr. Blackstone acknowledges that some of the other medical disciplines such as oncology and cardiology have had a lot of success with combination therapies, including behavioral interventions and medications, in addition to surgery. It is a multifaceted problem and needs to be treated accordingly.

But when I see little kids who are well on their way to becoming obese adults, it makes me cringe, and I know we are setting them up for failure early on, before they ever get a chance to learn to make healthy choices for themselves.

And I think that's a major failure on the part of the adults in this country. We know better, and it's outright negligence to continue to allow this to happen.

end of rant, for now.

(cross posted at ultrahypo)


SteveQ said...

I think it's interesting how people's perception of "fat" have been skewed. The latest I heard was that 40% of pets in the U.S. are obese with owners who think they look fine. If we can't see that dogs are waddling, how skewed must our perception of children be? Could it be that parents of obese children think they're okay?

HappyTrails said...

Rant away. We are on the same page. Amen and amen. Preach it, sister!

Alene Gone Bad said...

Steve, I think you are so right on with that comment. I saw a waitress in her 20s at a restaurant and was thinking about this. She has what I'd say is now an average body type. Definitely overweight by healthy standards, and certainly would struggle if she tried to run. But she actually looks like the average person. Lots of extra fat, but normal female curves intact...things were proportional but kind of overweight all over. I don't know if that means she's one of those with the genetic predisposition to obesity, or if she's just overweight from lack of exercise and too much food. I don't think most people would consider her to be very overweight, but I think she probably does have a BMI of around 30.

I don't think people see fat the way they used to. And those parents probably think their own kids are just fine.

I see more fat kids than not fat kids these days. It really sucks.

Alene Gone Bad said...

This morning there was an article in our local paper about parents feeding their kids unhealthy foods on their way to athletic practices, feeding them pizza and soda instead of healthy foods. Even the kids who particpate in physical activity are getting shortchanged by bad influences, coming from their own parents!