Teach it to the children
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Sep 18, 2012 | 2538 views |  0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For those wanting to shed a few excess pounds, it’s common for change to mimic a snail’s pace. Progress can be frustratingly slow. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 50-year-old man or a fifth-grade child.

That said, children are the perfect demographic with which to combat Alabama’s epidemic of obesity. Unlike many adults, children have more opportunities to get active — through school programs, through sports and through their own lifestyles. The best part: Children taught early on the benefits of healthy diets and good exercise habits are more likely to be obesity-free as adults.

It’s obvious: If Alabama is serious about tackling its obesity epidemic, it’s imperative to include children’s health in the state’s plans.

Through its “Our Big Problem” series, The Star has urged residents to take charge of their lives and adopt healthier, happier lifestyles. It’s good that Alabamians are listening to the suggestions the newspaper has published from doctors, clinicians and weight-loss experts.

Likewise, it’s reassuring that local pediatricians want to be part of the solution to this terrible problem. On Monday, a Star story highlighted pediatric nurse practitioner Chase Thomas and Anniston Pediatrics’ Dr. Lewis Doggett, two health-care providers who are starting programs aimed specifically at helping overweight kids break unhealthy habits.

On Oct. 1, Thomas is starting a boot camp for children that will include four weeks of intensive exercise. Doggett is starting a weight-loss clinic for kids that will include sessions with a nutritionist and dietician. Both clinics, if they reach enough kids, could play a large roll for the next generation here in northeast Alabama.

It’s clear what Alabama is facing: Decades of unhealthy decisions — about what we eat, about exercise — have combined with sedentary office jobs and hours spent relaxing on the couch. The result is a state beset with unacceptable obesity rates, which, in turn, lead to all sorts of health-related ailments and deaths.

Alabama can do better.

We can imagine a day when today’s children are the first generation of Alabamians that is not as overweight or out-of-shape as those before it. If we teach our children correctly and help them enjoy healthy diets and exercise, we’ve improved thousands of lives.
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