Stories about: obesity

Children's helps bring healthy food to the community

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard plenty of healthcare experts stressing the importance of eating healthy food like fresh fruits and vegetables. The message may sound a little repetitive at times, but it’s important advice; whole, unprocessed foods  are not only good for our bodies, but for our waistlines too. And as obesity continues to dramatically affect the health of millions of Americans, it’s clear that more of us need pay closer attention to what the experts are saying.

But for many Americans, the shift towards eating healthy food isn’t so easy. Adding more greens to the grocery list is good advice, but it’s easier said than done for a lot of people. The high cost and limited availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in some areas makes them practically unobtainable to a substantial portion of the population.

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Food for thought: The war against childhood obesity

Daivd Ludwig, MD, PhD

For David Ludwig, MD, PhD, one of health’s most fundamental truths can be traced back to a 2,000-year-old quote from Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine: “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.”

It’s a simple but powerful philosophy, and when combined with current research in obesity prevention, it’s one of the cornerstones of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Clinic. “Hippocrates was right, nutrition really is the foundation for health and well-being,” says Ludwig. “He understood that intuitively, without access to the modern science and technology.”

Founded by Ludwig in 1996, OWL is a multidisciplinary clinic with a staff that includes physicians, nurses, dietitians and experts in child behavior. With Ludwig at the helm, OWL has spent the past decade and a half researching childhood obesity while serving over 1,500 patients a year, making it one of the largest and most respected childhood obesity clinics in America. Now, thanks to a $7 million grant provided by the New Balance Foundation, Ludwig and his team will be able to expand their clinical research, patient care and community health programs. The newly created New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center will bring Ludwig’s message to even more children and communities struggling with weight issues.

Since he was 8 years old, Ludwig has been captivated by the inner workings of the human body. By the time he finished the fourth grade he had read every physiology book on the shelves of his local library.

That fascination stayed with him throughout his education. When he began his pediatric endocrinology fellowship at Children’s, he focused his studies on diet and weight, researching how brain function affects body size, as well as the role genetics plays in why some people become obese and others do not.

But with childhood obesity already reaching epidemic status by the mid-1990s, Ludwig felt a more preventive approach was needed to remedy the mounting health problems that overweight children would face in the future.

“Our genes, though important, haven’t caused the epidemic—so we need to look to the environment for the answers,” he says.

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From eating disorders to obesity: The thin and thick of talking to your kids about their weight

I really don’t want my children to be overweight. I know this because I see the consequences every day in my practice, consequences like high blood pressure, impending diabetes, or poor self-esteem.

At the same time, I really, really don’t want my children to have an eating disorder. I know this because I had one.

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Bringing back home economics

homeeconomicsIn today’s technologically driven schools, the idea of home economics classes, which were designed to arm kids with half a dozen easy-to-cook recipes, seems a little dated. And faced with busy academic schedules, schools have largely abandoned these lessons. But given the current epidemic of childhood obesity, is this really the smartest move?  In a commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), David Ludwig, MD, PhD, argues that instruction in basic food preparation and meal planning are essential for today’s kids, who can’t rely on their parents to teach them these skills.

(Read a related post from Thrive that asks whether it’s realistic to expect marketers to make changes on their own to how they market unhealthy foods to kids, or whether the government should get involved.)

Many parents never learned to cook and instead rely on restaurants, take-out food, frozen meals and packaged food as basic fare. Many children seldom experience what a true home-cooked meal taste like, much less what goes into preparing it.

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