Surgeon General Asks Pediatricians To Address Issue of Childhood Obesity
U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona on Monday asked pediatricians at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics to improve efforts to address childhood obesity, the New York Times reports. According to Carmona, health problems related to obesity cost the United States $117 billion per year in medical costs and lost productivity and cause about 300,000 deaths each year. He said, "We must teach our children to enjoy healthy foods in healthy portions. We must encourage all children to be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day." Carmona also said that physicians should not criticize overweight children, which he said "can cause a child deep and scarring emotional pain." He added, "Our children deserve much better than a lifetime of expensive and potentially fatal medical complications associated with excess weight." Dr. Reginald Washington, co-chair of a new AAP committee on nutrition and obesity, said that the group has lobbied lawmakers to establish separate reimbursements in federal health insurance programs for obesity treatment; the federal government and most private health insurers do not reimburse providers for such treatment.
Carmona on Monday also announced plans to establish a database of programs that have helped U.S. residents lose weight and increase their physical activity, the Times reports. HHS, Nike, McNeil Nutritionals, Campbell Soup, Kaiser Permanente, the American Diabetes Association, the American Obesity Association and the AAP obesity and nutrition committee will assemble the database. Dr. David McCarron, president of Oregon-based Academic Network, which will coordinate the effort, said that the database will cost $600,000 to develop and that the Web site will launch next spring (Ault, New York Times, 11/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.