Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obesity Obscured

The Robert Wood Johnson foundation plans to spend $500 million over five years in an effort to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States by 2015. In December 2008 they funded the Summit Health Insiturtue for Research and Education in Washington DC in order to reduce childhood obestiy in the District.

The current and significant rise in child obesity has become a major health concern in America since child obesity predicts future health problems. High cost diseases that result like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis raise health care costs for everyone. Medical care for children and adults who develop complications due to obesity require extensive, and expensive treatments.

Families can help because the children model parental behaviors. Schools can help since children learn, eat and play in school. Education, exercise and support are very necessary since as numerous studies show it is far more difficult to lose weight than it is to gain. Yet money for prevention programs, likely less than medications and a doctors care, are hard to find. The Robert Wood Foundation has done their part but a quick Google search finds no more leads and very little chance to even apply for money.

Herein lies the problem of course. As our health insurance system fails, and the cost of care increases and when our government bails out bankers and Republicans fear socialized medicine our childen gain more weight.

Dr. Walter J. Pories, a well-known gastric bypass surgeon, considers the lack of care and insurance financing for weight-loss programs is “the single most frustrating problem in dealing with childhood obesity.”

Yet several national groups are pressing for government financing or insurance reimbursement for more intensive weight loss treatment for children and these groups may now be heard.

Today the Senate passed a bill to provide health insurance to more than four million uninsured children, a bill George Bush vetoed. President Obama is eager to sign it thus providing a great step toward improving the health of American children. And hopefully this is only the first step because we need to stop the growing trend toward obesity in our children before the scale tips too far.

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