Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Childhood Obesity Summit Calls Attention to Public Policy

Michael Goran, founding director of USC's Childhood Obesity Research Center (left), and Dr. Kenneth Moritsugu of the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute tackle the topic of childhood obesity. Photo courtesy USC.

Given the knowledge that childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years, lawmakers and healthcare leaders convened Sept. 10 on the campus of the University of Southern California to discuss ways of tackling the problem at home, in the schools and through public policy decisions made at the local and national levels.

To find out more about this issue and its related healthcare disparities among racial and ethnic groups, I traveled to Los Angeles to attend
Childhood Obesity: A Call to Action.

The event, organized by CHI-member USC in cooperation with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, was designed to help lay the groundwork for federal policy as Congress considers legislation regarding elementary and secondary education, child nutrition and transportation programs.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-East Los Angeles), who represents USC's Health Sciences Campus, led the congressional delegation attending the event, which included Reps. Michael Honda (D-Silicon Valley/San Jose), Judy Chu (D-East Los Angeles/El Monte), Grace Napolitano (D-Suburban Los Angeles), Diane Watson (D-Central Los Angeles) and Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands).

Roybal-Allard called childhood obesity a “national crisis” and noted how research demonstrated that obese youth were more likely to become obese adults. The summit highlighted some of USC’s own research and policy expertise in childhood obesity, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities. One program, initiated by USC Pharmacy School Dean Dr. Mel Baron, used
comic book-like “fotonovelas” to increase awareness of diabetes and related health issues among Latino communities.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry spoke of the efforts to eliminate so-called “food deserts,” or regions where fast-food restaurants dominate but access to grocery stores selling fresh fruits and vegetables is limited to none.

And an effort to improve the accuracy of health messages on television and in movies is gaining traction, according to Sandra de Castro Buffington, who serves as director of USC’s Hollywood, Health & Society program.

Corporations, too, are doing their part, as exemplified by Dr. Kenneth Moritsugu of the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute.

He mentions, though, that we have a complicated route ahead. “Twenty-six percent of Americans are obese and we have no good data on type 2 diabetes,” he said.

Overall, the program served as an excellent example of how such a large problem has many solutions, and good public policy decisions and corporate leadership can lead the way.

For more information on the Childhood Obesity: A Call to Action event held at USC, click here.

For more information about childhood obesity, visit the website for the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CHI-Advancing California biomedical research and innovation

Bookmark and Share


Jesse Torres said...

It is great the the research universities and elected officials are getting together to get the word out. But a solution to this will require a tough and time-consuming grass roots effort that includes local businesses, schools, churches, nonprofits and other local parties that act together to put an end to the huge problem.

Jesse Torres
President and CEO
Pan American Bank
East Los Angeles, CA 90063

Nicole said...

The disparity between ethnic groups is very sad issue. Particularly the effects on Native American Youth & their communities is disheartening. Perhaps increasing built environments and exercise programs in these communities is the answer. The NB3 Foundation is one nonprofit that strives to do that. Here’s their latest video of the new Soccer Field they just built in the pueblo of San Felipe: