Noted exercise physiologist, Dr. Russ Pate of the USC Arnold School of Public Health recently joined leading health and medical experts throughout the U.S. in Washington, D.C. for a panel discussion on solving America’s epidemics of childhood obesity and mental illness. The discussion was held January 20 and at the National Press Club. Pate says a course correction must be made in schools and at home to get youngsters more physically active and to eat healthier or they will be doomed to suffering from chronic disease like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Pate says the good news is that health experts have captured the nation’s attention, people are listening, and now an action plan must be put in place.
Pate says he took the opportunity to speak to the panel about the National Physical Activity Plan that he and his colleagues at USC were instrumental in developing. Pate says there is no doubt that our youngsters and American society as a whole have become more sedentary and that has got to change if we all aim to lead healthier lifestyles.
Pate says while he continues to be a strong proponent on getting youngsters to eat healthier and that would include making changes in what is served in our school meal programs, changing diets alone will not stem the rising tide of childhood obesity alone.
According to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, in the last three decades, U.S. rates of childhood obesity have tripled.
Pate says the key to turning the tide of childhood obesity and obesity in general is to develop and promote environments that promote health and wellness and that includes the dining tables at home and at school.
Pate says parents should monitor their children’s and their own screen times, in front of the TV or at the computer, and make sure their getting a proper amount of physical activity daily.
Pate says on the subject of mental health, as well as general health, the panel discussion included a heavy emphasis on the idea that we need to do a better job with prevention. Pate says there may be instances where parents may not be in tune with their youngsters’ problems, but we as professionals must do a better job of getting youngsters the help they need.
The panel gathering was sponsored by Arizona State University. ASU officials point out that more children and adolescences suffer from a higher prevalence of psychological problems resulting in poor grades, low self-esteem, depression, and more suicide attempts.