Dr. Patrick Colletti of Reno knows how important this battle is. A pediatrician since 1978, alarmed at what's happened in just the past few years. As he told us, "The childhood obesity epidemic is so big, there's a 30% increase in obesity every decade. So, we have a big problem on our hands."
So alarmed, he came to speak at the Obesity Forum on his own time. He and 150 others met at UNR to come up with an answer to what is being called in Nevada, an epidemic. Dr. Monica Lounsbery told us, "We are growing into the category of being a little worse than the national average."
34 percent of Nevada kids are either overweight or obese...a third. Today's children may be the first in America's history to live shorter lives than their parents, and much of that is tied to obesity. What can be done? The folks we spoke to at the Obesity Forum said educating those kids about what's in those foods they eat, and making a change in their eating habits.
Progress is being made in the Washoe County School District. As of 2 years ago, Nutrition Services Director Tony Cook told us the old menu items like "Pizza's made with less than healthy items, nachos, things of that nature," are no longer on school lunch menus. Today, "All of our pastas are whole grain. All of our sandwich bread is whole grain. Our pizza dough is whole grain."
But fast food is never far away, and kids have a taste for those empty calories, sending them towards a future of heart disease and cancer…even a new phenomenon: type 2 diabetes. As Dr. Colletti told us, "Type 2 diabetes was so rare in children that in the Journal of Pediatrics, it was never mentioned until the 1990's." Dr. Lounsbery seconded that. As she told us, "It was unheard of about 2 decades ago, and now we see that the number of kids with type 2 diabetes is on the rise and has tripled."
Too many warning signs. They say a drastic change needs to be made for the future health of Nevada's children. Parents can get a head start on heading off obesity with a great web resource from the Washoe County Health District. To check out everything the "Get Healthy Washoe" site offers, just click below: