Tag Archives: childhood obesity

Battle against childhood obesity is complicated

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

Maureen O’Hagan and her colleagues at The Seattle Times have put together a sprawling package of stories on the fight against childhood obesity in their new series, “Feeling the Weight.” We’ll break it down story-by-story.

Kids battle the lure of junk food
Local agencies are spending millions to provide healthy alternatives to Seattle-area youth, but they — to say nothing of the youth themselves — are faced with a seemingly insurmountable deluge of tasty treats that tempt teens at every turn.

State still seeks winning strategy against childhood obesity
For a decade, Washington’s anti-obesity strategy has focused on providing kids with access to health alternatives.

So far, the results are discouraging. A push to put more fresh produce in poor neighborhoods’ corner stores, for instance, is struggling. And recent studies suggest the proliferation of farmers markets has done little to change diets or behavior. The number of overweight and obese kids continues to climb.

In other words, we might be spending a whole lot of money on efforts that miss the mark.

How to help your kids lose weight healthfully
The trick, she writes, is to focus on healthy behavior rather than on weight loss.

Parents stand between kids and junk food
O’Hagan’s profiles of parents of obese children shatter a few stereotypes and illustrate just how complex the issue is.

What readers had to say about childhood-obesity topic
Readers weighed in with advice, criticism, observations and more.

Related

Covering Obesity: A Guide for Reporters

Covering ObesityThe prospect of covering such a broad, engaging and important topic as obesity can be overwhelming. This guide, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is designed to help journalists cover a wide range of stories, whether writing on deadline or researching a multipart series. It offers assistance on calculating body mass index, finding obesity statistics on the state level, gauging the quality of school district wellness policies, finding innovative school nutrition policies and much more.

State snapshots make it easy to spot disparities in children’s health care

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

The Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health has broken the 2007 NSCH Child Health and System Performance Profile into what it calls “state snapshots.” These snapshots make it particularly easy to compare all 50 states (and D.C.) across 21 categories, including dental health, access to care, insurance and several chronic conditions. Below, I’ve mapped an indicator of child access to preventative care, one which would appear to correlate strongly with population density.

preventative1

The Data Resource Center is a project of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI), housed at the Oregon Health & Science University.

Update

In the comments, AHCJ board member Felice Freyer noted that it “Would be interesting to compare these numbers with info on percentage of children who have coverage in each state.” So, that’s just what I did. I put together another map, again using 2007 NSCH data and attached it below.

uninsured

Reporters chronicle the death of a sugary drink tax

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

With a classic tale of powerful established interests, millions and millions of dollars and savvy lobbying, Chicago Tribune reporters Tom Hamburger and Kim Geiger draw our attention to the news vacuum that has formed where debate over a sugary drink tax used to be. From its optimistic beginnings to its eventual slow strangulation, Hamburger and Geiger track the rise and fall of the push to tax sugary drinks in order to discourage poor dietary choices and help fund health care reform.

soda
Photo by libraryman via Flickr.

The reporters do a wonderful job of chronicling every lobbying pressure point pushed by the industry, from faux grassroots to industry alliances to muli-million-dollar advertising campaigns. Here’s a small sample of their overview:

The White House has dismissed the idea, however, even after President Barack Obama had expressed interest last summer. A key congressional committee, though initially seeming receptive, ended up refusing to consider it. Several minority advocacy groups, including some committed to fighting obesity, lined up against the tax after years of receiving financial support from the industry.
…..
Meanwhile, beverage lobbyists attacked several nutrition scientists, accusing them of bias and distorting available evidence. The beverage industry also financed research that reached conclusions favorable to its position.

(Hat tip to Audrea Huff of the Orlando Sentinel‘s Fitness Center blog)

Walking school bus hopes to cut traffic, obesity

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

Just in time for International Walk to School Day (Oct. 7), Bobbie O’Brien of  public radio station WUSF-Tampa reports on a county health department in Florida that’s become the latest local group to join the walking school bus movement.

runoff
Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

The idea behind the program is to “Have children, with one or more adult along for safety’s sake, walk to school in organized groups,” NPR’s Mark Memmot writes. “They get exercise, traffic around the schools gets better and everybody benefits.”

Related

For a thorough primer on covering obesity, AHCJ members should check out “Covering Obesity: A Guide for Reporters” slim guide.