The reason we’ll never make progress in overcoming childhood obesity is that we are unwilling to consider that “moderation is not the key” and “small changes do not make a big difference”. We need a paradigm shift. We need a tsunami approach: break it all down and start over.
In a recent review of interventions for preventing obesity in children, researchers at the University of Melbourne reviewed 55 childhood obesity studies to determine what works, why, and for whom.
Teach the truth about nutrition in school – not the industry propaganda.
Despite reviewing a huge number of studies, they were unable to find consistency in the results. They found that there was “some benefit from the usual approaches.” We’re familiar with these. Here are a few:
- school curriculum that includes healthy eating, physical activity and body image
- increased sessions for physical activity
- improvements in nutritional quality of the food supply in schools
- parent support and home activities that encourage children to be more active, eat more nutritious foods and spend less time in screen based activities
Unfortunately, they also found that the overall study designs were weak, there was evidence of small study bias, there were too many variables to draw definitive conclusions, and the studies were too short of duration to measure behavior change or potential for long-term health benefits.
This is where we are in studying the most urgent health crisis in history?
There isn’t an easy way to turn this ship around. We have to get bold and honest. Try these 8 steps to begin.
1. Teach the truth about nutrition in school – not the industry propaganda. Do not use materials provided by McDonalds, or other industry giants, to teach children nonsense that a hamburger, french fries, and milk satisfy a portion of the recommended servings of meat, grain, vegetable, and dairy. You might consider this approach to using McDonalds to give a lesson in nutrition and health.
2. Overhaul the school lunch program. Demand that health be a higher priority than cost. If lunch cost $10 per student, demand it. We will save money in health care costs down the road.
Make plant-centered meals. Remove dairy. Use high quality meat. Get rid of all processed and packaged food. Ban sodas.
3. Make plant-centered meals. Remove dairy. Use high quality meat. Get rid of all processed and packaged food. Ban sodas. Make food that is fresh, delicious and inviting. Stop reserving the lowest quality food for schools and prisons. A school lunch should be indistinguishable from food served to our politicians in their finest restaurants.
4. Incorporate activity in everything you do. Make standing desks. Our brains learn better when we are moving anyway. Get creative. Just let them move.
5. Make everything in their environment organic. Don’t spray pesticides in schools or at home for that matter. Don’t serve food from endocrine disrupting BPA packaging. Use cleaning products that are non-toxic. Open up the classrooms to bring in fresh air.
6. Use water filters in schools or better yet, clean up our water supply. Get the chlorine, the fluoride, the pesticide and chemical runoff and the pharmaceutical drug residuals out of our water.
7. Get fast food restaurants out of schools, and hospitals while we’re at it. Are we brain-dead?
8. Teach students, teachers and parents how to prevent or reverse disease by adopting a plant-centered diet. We do not need to be suffering from nor paying for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. All of these are reversible and completely preventable.
Hint: Here’s a source of funding for your $10 lunches; According to the National Health Education Fact Sheet, households spend 28% of our income on healthcare, the government spends 27% and businesses spend 21%. We’re already paying. We’re just paying at the wrong end.