Battling Childhood Obesity through Smart Eating

Finally, a positive solution … … … and costly campaign to stem … obesity is … For the … of children and their families who are … battling with c

Finally,Guest Posting a positive solution regarding America’s difficult and costly campaign to stem childhood obesity is emerging. For the thousands of children and their families who are currently battling with childhood obesity, this good news is long awaited.

Indeed, the risk factors for childhood obesity read like a checklist of ailments that only a generation ago would never have been linked to children and diet: heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and of course, social ridicule and alienation [i]. This latter consequence of childhood obesity — ridicule and alienation — has the dual effect of damaging a child both physically and emotionally far beyond childhood, and possibly for the rest of his or her natural life.

For years, medical experts have called for a multi-faceted strategy to address this epidemic. It has been clear that any long-term solution must be fought on four major fronts: physical activity, sedentary behavior, socioeconomic status, and eating habits [ii].

Yet there is room for another pillar; or, at the very least, the identification of another component that must be a part of any lasting solution. This fifth pillar, or undiscovered component, is smart nutritional supplements.

Many obese children have been told repeatedly by well-intentioned dieticians that eating smart is the key to overcoming this scarring condition. This is easier said than done; especially when emotional eating or an unobserved food addiction [1] may fuel adverse eating habits.

Yet being told to “eat smart” is oftentimes not enough. Children must be provided with foods that are nutritionally sound, and foods that they actually enjoy eating. It is this latter criterion that most well-intentioned experts and caregivers overlook. This is explained below.

Most obese children are neither unable to learn, nor willfully disobedient. Some of these children even have remarkable support from their well-adjusted families who dutifully remove the usual suspects of chips, soft drinks, chocolate bars, and other damaging foods from the home. Yet many of these same children continue to gain weight and march ever closer to the litany of health defects noted above.

These children are not sadistic, and they are not attempting to kill themselves through eating; though some do because of the stigma associated with their condition. Indeed, many obese children are cognitively aware of the danger to which they are subjecting their bodies. Yet they continue to snack away in secret, or binge on foods when they get the chance, thereby undoing whatever minor gains might have been achieved in the previous few days or weeks.

The problem is one of food selection. Generally speaking, children of all weights and shapes will not eat something that they do not like. For obese children who have typically had unfettered access to highly stimulating foods such as gravies and sugar-loaded soft drinks, the willpower to eat unpalatable foods is undeveloped. Indeed, the dietician may snack away on carrots and celery while talking to an obese child about the importance of eating smart. For the obese child, carrots and celery are foreign foods for which there is no known preference.

This fifth pillar, or new component, is therefore one that provides obese children with nutritional supplements that they will eat. As stunningly obvious – even axiomatic – as this seems, it has been lost on many experts until recently.

Thankfully, as noted above, there is a solution emerging. It is one that meets this demand for tasty, healthy foods. Forward-thinking companies that understand their consumers are creating low-calorie, highly nutritious foods fortified with life-sustaining vitamins and protein. More importantly: they are tasty, and are often packaged in colorful containers that are “teen-friendly”. Companies including MetRx™, Experimental and Applied Sciences™, Protica Research™, and others develop products that fit well within these requirements. Granted, a healthy diet does not start or end with nutritional supplements. A healthy diet employs nutritional supplements to complement and fortify real foods.

Indeed, children and families affected by the obesity epidemic in America are cautiously optimistic at this point; after all, they have been promised solutions in the past. However, thanks to the next generation of nutritional supplements, there is an expectation that this optimism will steadily grow with every success story, and every child that recovers from the potentially devastating impact of obesity.


Founded in 2001, Protica, Inc. is a nutritional research firm with offices in Lafayette Hill and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Protica manufactures capsulized foods, i

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Friedman School gets grant for obesity study (Tuftsdaily – Effects of Obesity)

With the receipt of a $6.9 million grant, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy has publicly launched ChildObesity180, a multisector organization aimed at supporting research on and the implementation of childhood obesity prevention strategies.

The grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,Guest Posting an entity dedicated to financing health improvementbased initiatives, marks the public phase of the organization, which was initially conceived in 2009.

As discussed in University President Anthony Monaco’s recent email to the Tufts community, ChildObesity180 — hosted through the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity Prevention — strives to reverse childhood obesity trends that spawned an epidemic that has tripled in size in the last 30 years.

Effects of Obesity

It aims to achieve this goal through an approach that involves consulting with leaders in the fields of government, media, policy and communitybased services.

ChildObesity180 coDirector Miriam Nelson explained the different phases of the initiative.

“We’ve tested the hypothesis that we could get the highestlevel leadership of multiple sectors to come together and develop a plan,” Nelson said. “We did, and they remained engaged. The second activity is putting together a prioritysetting framework, to drill down and decide what would be the most helpful strategies and initiatives. The third is developing those plans to take on a national level and get the funding to start implementing.”

The grant has moved the initiative forward into the public sphere. (Effects of Obesity)

“We were in what I’d call a threeyear quiet phase as we were developing the idea, the concept and initial funding,” Nelson said.

Over the past three years, ChildObesity180 has developed partnerships with several organizations, including the Girl Scouts of the USA and the National 4H Council, both of which have highlevel representation, according to Nelson.

The project has also gathered leaders from the academic, government, food industry and private sectors, all committed to addressing and preventing childhood obesity. These include Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, President and CEO of National Public Radio Gary Knell and retired President and CEO of Kellogg Company A.D. David Mackay. (Effects of Obesity)

Nelson is also a professor at the Friedman School and the director and founder of the John Hancock Research Center. Vice Chair of the Board of the Trustees Peter Dolan (A ’78) and Friedman School Associate Professor Christina Economos join Nelson at the helm of ChildObesity180.

Economos led the acclaimed Shape Up Somerville initiative that served as a model for First Lady Michelle Obama’s nationwide childhood obesity prevention program. She is the vicechair and director of the new program.

The three individuals started discussing the best way to tackle childhood obesity when Dolan, now serving as chair of the organization, approached Nelson about the subject. (Effects of Obesity)

“Peter came to me three years ago and said that he was so distraught with the childhood obesity epidemic that he wanted to see what kind of role he could play in making a difference,” Nelson said. “We helped him understand the whole epidemic and causes and solutions, and he was a very quick study. He is committed to this as a citizen. This is what he wants to do.”

She added that Dolan is not paid for his involvement with ChildObesity180.

“It’s a great testament that as a trustee he’s so committed to our work,” Nelson said.

After conducting research, Nelson said they agreed that the best solution was to develop a multisector leadership group to consider initiatives that would produce the highest impact on the reversal of childhood obesity trends. (Effects of Obesity)

ChildObesity180 on Tuesday is planning to launch its second initiative, “After School Acceleration Project,” according to Nelson.

Sandra Bolton, a Somerville resident and grandmother of a Girl Scout struggling with obesity, heard about ChildObesity180 and is encouraged by Girl Scouts of the USA’s participation in its “Healthy Kids Out of School” initiative.

The initiative focuses on extracurricular programs, encouraging the implementation of sustainable nutrition and physical activity principles.

“Hopefully there will be some groundlevel implementation soon, but it’s worthwhile to know that the organization my daughter is a part of truly stands behind their commitment to community improvement,” Bolton told the Daily. (Effects of Obesity)

Brandon Ransom, who is studying food policy and applied nutrition at the Friedman School, is Economos’ mentee and works closely with her. He noted that a key goal of the organization is to work locally to develop a national model similar to Shape Up Somerville’s evolution.

“The work of ChildObesity180 is to make programs at a grassroots level that incorporate healthy living styles and nutrition; essentially, they’re trying to make it something that can be implemented nationwide,” he said.

With regard to the realities of child obesity, Nelson insists that there has been an improvement in the trends.

“There are many people working on this issue across the country,” she said. “I feel this [organization] will be a major player in this. Our primary goal is to use the latest research and evidence to inform work we do and prevent young children from becoming obese.” Both Nelson and Ransom emphasized that the program aims to prevent obesity, not treat it. (Effects of Obesity)

“At the Friedman School, the goal is eventually to focus on dealing with diseases before they occur,” Ransom said. “It’s more expensive to go to the hospital in an ambulance than it is to have a checkup.”

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