“The Obesity Epidemic: A Looming Crisis”

Dr. David Ludwig, a respected physician and researcher at the Children’s Hospital Boston and professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote an article which appeared in this month’s New England Journal of Medicine. In his paper, he compares obesity's consequences to those of global climate change:

"Without effective intervention, the costs of obesity might well become catastrophic, arising not only from escalating medical expenses but also from diminished worker productivity, caused by physical and psychological disabilities. Future economic losses could mean the difference between solvency and bankruptcy for Medicare, between expanding and shrinking health care coverage, and between investment in and neglect of our social infrastructure, with profound implications for our international competitiveness. The human costs would be incalculable."

"My colleagues and I have predicted that pediatric obesity may shorten life expectancy in the United States by 2 to 5 years by midcentury — an effect equal to that of all cancers combined."

Dr. Ludwig then adds an important positive note:

"But I believe that obesity differs in one important respect from global warming: simple solutions are available, and with a comprehensive national strategy, we may be able to implement them without great sacrifice."

As this article contends, lifestyle changes including more physical activity are vital -- exactly what we can accomplish together during visits to federally managed public lands, in compliance with EO 13266 (June 2002). Let's work together on getting kids outdoors and living an active, healthy lifestyle.

The New England Journal of Medicine articles:
Childhood Obesity: The Shape of Things to Come
Adolescent Overweight and Future Adult Coronary Heart Disease
Childhood Body-Mass Index and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Adulthood