As the year approaches its end, let us look back at a few of the more intriguing discoveries and proposals in the area of childhood obesity and obesity in general. Sometimes, research findings are deemed promising. Sometimes, suggestions for behavioral, environmental, or policy modification are translated into action, and that can be a beautiful thing.
We talked about the notion of the walking school bus. Some people believe it can influence childhood obesity, and the government has put a whole lot of tax money into promoting and trying it out. Did you know it’s possible to spend $10,000 just to get a map made, of the best walking routes to school? Your newsblog editor would have done it for $5,000, and paid her own travel expenses to Eagan, Minnesota.
Others believe that, while walking may not exert a direct and provable effect on childhood obesity, it does offer many other demonstrable benefits toward quality of life. In turn, the quality of life influences the mindset of a person who might choose whether to engage in comfort eating or to seek other ways of handling negative emotions. Please visit this nice YouTube video clip that emphasizes some of the advantages of the walking school bus.
People have been thinking up a lot of ideas aimed at reducing obesity. While results may be positive, unintended consequences can also arise. Some suggestions are not so easily adaptable to reality as we know it. Bearing all that in mind, here are some tips for avoiding obesity:
Live in the Right City
There are people who spend whole careers dealing with transportation policy, walkability, transit access, and other matters vital to urban dwellers. Sometimes they stumble over strange paradoxes, like this one noted by Willy Staley:
Some of our oldest, densest cities — the cities that planners most like to emulate — suffer from epidemic level obesity rates. And some of our more sprawling metros are much fitter and healthier… Really, it is much easier to correlate obesity rates with poverty than it is with walkability or livability. That isn’t to say that the US DOT shouldn’t be working on increasing our transit and livability options, it’s just to say that no one should be surprised if these initiatives fail to provide any meaningful decreases in the obesity rate.
Apparently, there is a school of thought that believes obesity can be quashed by cutting public transportation. Maybe so, but it would sure hurt a lot of people. Any politician who would use increased fitness as an excuse to drydock city buses, needs their mouth washed out with soap.
A little piece in the Express reported that, according to experts,
Scotland’s childhood obesity crisis is nowhere near as bad as that of other countries… Obesity rates among children in Scotland are far lower than those in supposedly healthy Mediterranean countries…
Take that, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta, and Croatia! Supposedly, the news of Scotland’s relatively low obesity is based on a World Health Organization study concerning 11-year-old boys, to which a link does not seem to have been included, and which is a little difficult to track down.
If Addicted to Food, Make One of These Four Moves
Sometimes, things go way past the point where even the most ambulatory of school buses could help. For anyone who knows from personal experience that food addiction is real, the Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center states that these four choices are your best bets:
A. Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Method in which the client is taught techniques to monitor and change their eating habits, as well as to change the way they respond to difficult and stressful situations.
B. Interpersonal psychotherapy: Method in which the client is taught to examine their relationships with friends and family and to make changes in problem areas.
C. Medications: Antidepressants may be helpful for some individuals.
D. Self-help groups: These groups may be a good additional source of support for many.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Fewer students walk to school,” MPR News, 10/01/11
Source: “Can the Dep’t of Transportation Combat Obesity?,” AmericanCity.org, 07/22/10
Source: “Myth of Obesity in Children,” Express.co.uk, 10/10/11
Source: “Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center,” EdReferral.com
Image by MoBikeFed, used under its Creative Commons license.