Beyonce Joins Michelle Obama's Initiative To Fight Childhood Obesity


Obesity: A 'Most Important Issue'

Dr. Mitchell Roslin, a bariatric surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, questioned how influential a music video can be on a child's overall health.

"The prevalence of severe obesity in inner city schools, especially in females, is astronomical," said Roslin. "Thus, while I am glad they are taking an interest, I am pessimistic about how effective it will be."

According to the Let's Move! campaign, nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese. Among African American and Hispanic communities, those numbers are even higher: about 40 percent. Obesity puts people of all ages at high risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and asthma.

Obesity causes much more than physical health problems, added Keith Ayoob, associate clinical professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He said the effects can act as a vortex of weight gain.

"Kids get teased mercilessly about their weight," said Ayoob. "That just makes them want to be active even less than they already are. These kids can often become depressed, suffer from low self esteem and just dislike who they are because of their weight…It's a vicious cycle."

Doctors said that the epidemic has gotten so bad among adults and children that anti-obesity efforts face an uphill climb, even with the massive national education campaigns.

"This is going to be a far more difficult battle than smoking or teen pregnancy," said Roslin. "Smoking, you can go cold turkey; teen pregnancy can be reduced with birth control and abortion."

With obesity, you have to eat," continued Roslin. "You are surrounded by easily available, well-packaged energy rich foods that feel good to eat."

It's a Family Affair

Most experts said obesity is not an isolated issue. Everyone in a family must be believe in living a healthier life, and Helmcamp said that parents are vital in this process because "research shows that children watch and do what their parents do."

"The old adage, 'do as I say and not as I do' doesn't work well with healthy behaviors," said Helmcamp. "If a child watches parents eat unhealthy foods, large portion sizes and remain sedentary, then the child is more likely to take on these behaviors."

And Katz whole-heartedly agreed by saying that parents and kids will be more likely to lose weight together than alone.

"No one thing will fix this problem because no one thing caused it," said Katz. "We need an aggregation of health-promotion programming in diverse settings—schools, worksites, supermarkets, churches—if we are to turn this tide.

"We'll get there, but it won't be quick, and it won't be easy," he said.

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