Let’s weight and see …

A search for some good news this week turned up reports that scores of our children are tightening their belts, winning their own battles of the bulge, and for all but a few relatively isolated demographics, in a study of about three-quarters of a million California kids, obesity rates are waning.
Some would say the data even suggests that government works, for the broad initiatives launched a few years ago against what was portrayed as an alarming trend toward way too many kids damaging themselves with overeating and under-metabolizing look like they’ve worked; borne fruit, as it were.
There’s some downbeat stuff out of the report, too, mainly that the problem runs to rampant extremes that are beyond our current level of knowledge and skill to treat very expeditiously. But if we unlock the inner public relations practitioner, this could look like a fresh opportunity. We could say now that a vast group of kids have acquired relatively steady habits in terms of destructive weight gain, and that certain demographics where the pattern is not holding are now pinpointed, so we can crank up the focus on the children who need it the most.
The reports notes that some kids are so obese that the cascade of problems that come as a result puts them in need of the kind of treatment that we’re yet to know that much about. The researchers report the affliction to be disproportionate among such groups as girls of American Indian origin and Hispanic and African-American boys, all mainly pre-teens, 11 and 12 years old.
So in the interest of greeting this last third or so of the solstice, the researchers are reported to be able to say, voila, there’s where the problem remains. Instead of focusing on one of the least at-risk group of adolescents, that being Asian boys and girls, we’ll move that energy into these distinct areas.
There’s a thought out there that we’ve now got a great opportunity to learn a ton of new things about bariatrics and weight management for men and women and children of all ages by looking at these same particular cases discussed in the report.
Is that OK, or have we looped too far toward our views shaped and expressed by the esteemed public relations firm of Pollyanna & Co., Enterprises, which has a long and storied relationship with the (mythical) California Sunshine Promotion Board?
So behind all that, I’m deciding to aim at being able to say with a straight face that the plight of those particular kids could (almost) be spun into good maybe great news. At least down the line, maybe a clearer focus on the struggles of these children will yield modes and methods that could ease the weight-management problems of so many others — even though we’re neither sure what’s going to work, or if we even have any tools that are equal to the task.
Some of these doctors would say the time might be coming that infant obesity is a life-threatening public health malady if not a menace. But for now, it being summer and all, why not cross that bridge when we come to it? Prompt me to hope it’s “if” we come to it, for maybe we won’t what with shifted attention to those cases where the problem is most concentrated.
For the record, the researchers report their results in the July edition of the Journal of Pediatrics. They worked with records from some 710,000 cases of children who visited a
medical office though Kaiser Permanent Southern California at least one time between Jan. 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2008.
With that, my intention is to celebrate the rest of summer, even if I’ve got all the facts.

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