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Childhood Obesity: Are We Winning the Race?

Leading health and wellness site provides update on health crisis.

Chicago, August 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — BeSmartBeWell.com, an award-winning website, is dedicated to helping the public be healthy and safe through increased awareness and simple-to-use knowledge. In 2009, Be Smart. Be Well. created a series of videos about the childhood obesity crisis. Four years later, we checked in with a leading expert to ask: Are we winning the race?

In the new video update, Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., deputy chief medical officer at the American Heart Association, responds to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) decision to declare obesity a disease, provides a progress report and details how parents can help their kids stay healthy.

“The good news is that childhood obesity seems to have stabilized,” Dr. Sanchez says in the video. While the leveling is a positive sign, the crisis is far from over, he cautions. “This is a marathon. Realize you’ve got a lot more steps to go to reach the finish line.”

Watch Childhood Obesity: Are we winning?

What’s happening now
In June, the AMA (the nation’s largest physician organization) declared obesity a disease. The decision generated much discussion and some controversy. Dr. Sanchez responded to the decision in the video update and provided insight into how it may impact the battle against childhood obesity.

“There are some who believe that calling obesity a disease will let some people off the hook. I disagree,” he says. “I think calling obesity a disease puts it front and center in front of individuals, physicians, society, in a way that says this isn’t just a cosmetic issue. This is a medically important thing to address. I think that is the likely outcome, as opposed to a person saying, ‘Well I’ve got a disease and I can’t do anything about it.’”

Signs of progress
Recently, Voices for Healthy Kids, a collaboration between the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, reported that several states and cities have seen a decline in childhood obesity rates—the first drop in decades. And late last year, the CDC reported the first nationwide drop in obesity among low-income, very young children.

“Progress is being made to reverse childhood obesity. That’s good news,” Dr. Sanchez told Be Smart. Be Well.

However, rates in low-income and minority communities remain high, and more needs to be done to address childhood obesity in those populations, according to Dr. Sanchez.

“Close to 25 percent of the population will be Latino by the year 2050. They have a higher burden of childhood obesity and childhood type 2 diabetes, childhood hypertension and other things,” he says. “So it behooves us all to figure out how we address that head on.”

What happens next
The communities that are seeing the most improvement in childhood obesity rates are those where parents, schools and communities are coming together to combat the problem together, according to Dr. Sanchez. As local and federal policies work to ensure healthy foods are available in schools and communities, parents must continue to set positive examples in the home, he says.

“What goes on at home has to complement, and in some ways mirror, what we are learning are the best practices in places like the school,” he says. “An easy set of numbers for parents to think about what they can do is: 5,2,1,0. Five is five servings of fruits and vegetables a day; two is the number of hours maximum that children should spend looking at a screen; one is the one hour, at least, of physical activity that should be engaged in; and zero is about zero calories when you are hydrating yourself.”

Learn More
Besmartbewell.com/childhood-obesity provides practical information about the ongoing battle against childhood obesity. The website includes:

At the site, visitors can also sign up for the bimonthly Spotlight Newsletter and biweekly News Alerts for more in-depth articles and breaking news on childhood obesity and other important health topics.

About Be Smart. Be Well.
BeSmartBeWell.com is sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Divisions of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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Parents need to follow the 5-2-1-0 rule with their children, making sure they spend at least 1 hour per day doing something active.
Parents need to follow the 5-2-1-0 rule with their children, making sure they spend at least 1 hour per day doing something active.
Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., deputy chief medical officer at the American Heart Association, warns that while childhood obesity has stablized, the crisis is far from over.
Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., deputy chief medical officer at the American Heart Association, warns that while childhood obesity has stablized, the crisis is far from over.

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