In the Community
July 12, 2011
Childhood Obesity: Building a Movement to End the Epidemic
The rise of obesity in children and adolescents has become one of the most significant public health issues of our time. The obesity epidemic is an increasing cause for concern and costly draw on resources for families, communities, schools and health care providers. At this year’s 6th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, several attendees shared their perspectives on where we are in the efforts to end childhood obesity.
The statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reflect the gravity of the situation. Over the past three decades, the proportion of obese children in the United States has almost tripled. Being obese during childhood and adolescence increases the risk of developing high cholesterol, hypertension, respiratory ailments, orthopedic problems, depression and type 2 diabetes. As obese children and youth mature into adulthood, such health issues often persist, making individuals more prone to associated adult health problems such as heart disease, strokes and cancer.
- 2011 Childhood Obesity Conference Attendees Share Perspectives on Where We Are in the Efforts to End Childhood Obesity
Featured in this podcast, in order: Toni Yancey, UCLA School of Public Health and co-director of the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity; Oran Hesterman, founder, president and CEO of the Fair Food Network; Lisa Martinusen, Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank; and Loel Solomon, PhD, MPP, vice president, Community Health, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit.
According to the CDC, the cost attributable to obesity in the United States is expected to exceed $350 billion by 2018. A 2005 report published by the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that this generation could be the first in United States history to have shorter life expectancies than their parents.
Beginning in 2001, the California Department of Public Health and the University of California, Berkeley, Center for Weight and Health joined together to host the first Childhood Obesity Conference. Kaiser Permanente and The California Endowment are currently the conference’s lead sponsors. The conference, which takes place every other year, is the largest gathering of advocates, funders, policymakers, researchers and health professionals in the country. It brings together those who are on the leading edge of this country's efforts to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity.
This year marks the fourth time that Kaiser Permanente has helped host the Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference. It also marks a crossroads in the work to counter the epidemic, as more and more individuals and organizations are converging on a set of multi-pronged strategies to address obesity in order to influence the environment that surrounds people and communities and support healthier choices in food and physical activity.
“From the White House to main street, people are converging on a shared agenda and feeling a lot of momentum,” said Loel Solomon, PhD, vice president, Community Health at Kaiser Permanente. “While we are constantly learning how to improve our impact, there isn’t the sense that we don’t know what to do. We know what to do. So now is the time to take things to scale. That is the sentiment from people at this conference. There’s a lot of hope in that idea.”