Ending Childhood Obesity to Improve Adult Health

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Most of our most pressing health needs have their roots in pediatrics. Even things you would think of as diseases of the elderly, osteoporosis, it happens when you're a kid. And that 's when your bone density is set, the trajectory set we don't see the results of it for a long time.

It's true of macular degeneration, coronary heart disease. Most of the problems have their roots there. When I started in pediatrics it was unusual to see a child with high blood pressure, you just didn't see it. Or a child who had cholesterol outer block, unless they had some genetic condition.

But today in the US two-thirds of American high school students and middle school students already have at least one of those middle age conditions. It's been a dramatic change in the health of kids. Obesity epidemic is a metabolic ticking time bomb. That really is threatening to overwhelm our health care system and rob children and young adults of so much joy in life.

A lot of that comes from our American culture. On the day a child's born, they are able to learn to like almost any food, any healthy food, but that starts to shut down. And in the critical window, we've been exposing kids primarily to processed junk foods that don't taste like real foods.

So the nice thing for a new parent is that kids are remarkably adaptable, and it's actually very easy and joyful, inexpensive and not time consuming to teach them to like great food, if you get started early. Our bodies are built to be able to heal themselves, to repair themselves.

And even when we do something very invasive like, some kind of pyloric surgery, the surgeon is relying on the body's ability to knit itself back together layer after layer. So I think in medicine we should start with the respect for the body's healing process but then use whatever technology supports that.

It's not so much an over-reliance on technology I'm concerned about, but just it's a perspective switch. One of the things that I try to do is to cultivate an environment of mutual respect and if they understand that I'm listening to them and I value their opinion, then it sort of opens a door for me to share my opinion about the research too.