GenYOUth Foundation makes a big hit with childhood obesity research

11/15/2012  |  Brian K. Nadolne

Recently I was privileged to join our Georgia Academy of Family Physicians industry partner, Southeast United Dairy Industry (SUDIA), at the Learning Connection Summit in Washington, DC. At this conference, researchers in the field of childhood obesity presented information to industry and education leaders from around the country.

Childhood obesity is epidemic. As many as one out of every three children in the United States is obese or overweight.

The research community is actively investigating the obesity epidemic. Faculty presented information on the negative effect of hunger, irregular eating, and obesity on classroom performance. There were fascinating findings of increased hippocampal volume in children who are more fit. Research has suggested strong correlations between decreased physical activity, increased weight, inadequate breakfast, and inadequate overall nutrition with reduced academic success.

Our children have a job. It’s a real job. They are required to learn and do well in school. In order to do their job well, they must eat properly and regularly. They have to have the tools to be successful, and we as teachers, parents and physicians must be sure that we are providing these tools.

Fuel up to Play 60 is a program sponsored by the National Dairy Council (NDC) and the National Football League (NFL), in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This program teaches children that small daily changes in their activity can lead to improved fitness. Educators learn from such programs and begin to implement specific strategies in the classroom. Regular stretching, encouraging exercise at home and following up with the class at regular intervals can improve children’s fitness. In giving the children specific examples of activities, and then working to develop those skills, the teacher becomes a powerful tool of physical enhancement and empowerment.

Teachers play a critical role in child development. Supporting activities such as Fuel Up to Play 60 is one way to lead the children to success. Educators must continue to engage and educate children to help them to appreciate the depth of this epidemic and to help them become ambassadors of the cause.

Brian K. Nadolne, MD, FAAFP is a Family Physician in Marietta, Georgia. He is the Chair of Family Medicine at Northside Hospital and the current Vice-President of the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians
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