Comprehensive national strategy needed to curb childhood obesity

Despite reports in recent years showing a decline or stabilization in U.S. childhood obesity rates, a study in the February 2018 issue of Pediatrics found no evidence of a decline and noted a marked increase in severe obesity in children ages 2 to 5 years over the last few years.

In an accompanying editorial in Pediatrics, David Ludwig, professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and founding director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Boston Children’s Hospital, wrote that the new findings demand “a comprehensive national strategy across all relevant segments of society to prevent a looming public health disaster.”

“We have deep knowledge of the biological drivers of obesity, which include poor diet quality, excessive sedentary time, inadequate physical activity, stress, sleep deprivation, perinatal factors, and probably environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals. What is lacking is an effective strategy to address these drivers with sufficient intensity, consistency, and persistence,” Ludwig wrote.

“The battle against childhood obesity faces many obstacles, most notably entrenched special interests and a ‘business as usual’ mindset,” he wrote. “But with political will and collaboration across key sectors of society, we can hopefully, soon, begin to end this worsening epidemic.”

Read a February 26, 2018 article: Childhood obesity is getting worse, study says

Read a February 26, 2018 Consumer Reports article: U.S. Childhood Obesity Still on the Rise, New Study Shows

Learn more

Forty years of low-fat diets: a ‘failed experiment’ (Harvard Chan School news)

Have low-fat diets made us fatter? (Harvard Chan School news)

Healthy fats help curb cravings for unhealthy carbs (Harvard Chan School news)

Dr. David Ludwig clears up carbohydrate confusion (Harvard Chan School’s The Nutrition Source)

Off the Cuff: David S. Ludwig (Harvard Public Health magazine)