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Pushing Back on Childhood Obesity

by Jaimie Stevenson 


Tags: Science and technology, health, childhood obesity, Optimal Weight for Life, Ode, Cafeteria Chronicles, Jaimie Stevenson,

In February, Barack Obama signed a memorandum to establish a  Task Force on Childhood Obesity, including the launch of  Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to address childhood obesity and nutrition. One day earlier, British chef Jamie Oliver won a  2010 TED award, which will help him to launch a cross-industry initiative to fight obesity by educating families about food. This week we will be looking at childhood nutrition by highlighting books and articles that have passed through our library of late.  –The Editors 

Cafeteria ChroniclesIn its second annual “Intelligent Optimists” issue, Ode Magazine endeavored to find the “not yet famous” who are doing outstanding work in their fields. That’s where we came across the work of Dr. David Ludwig, Director of the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children’s Hospital, Boston.

Merely “identifying another gene related to obesity wasn’t going to change the health prospects of the children I was seeing,” Ludwig told Ode

Instead, Ludwig started exploring the dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factors that have pushed obesity to epidemic proportions in the U.S. The prevalence of junk food and junk food advertising directed at children, coupled with few exercise opportunities for low-income children, has created what Ludwig calls a toxic environment. “It’s overwhelming our biology, undermining our behavior, and leading so many people to gain weight.”

 …In 1996, Ludwig founded the Optimal Weight for life (OWL) obesity clinic at Children’s Hospital, where more than 500 children a year are treated using dietary, lifestyle, and behavioral counseling. In 2007, he published Ending the Food Fight, drawing on the clinic’s experience to guide parents of overweight children in making wiser food choices. Ludwig also advises governments at the local, state, and national level. He advocates banning soft drinks in schools and advertising directed at kids, as well as restructuring federal farm subsidies to support healthy food rather than corn and soy, prevalent ingredients in packaged foods.

Source: Ode

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