Three ways to de-program the 1950s obesity trinity underlying the current obesity epidemic is provided by a new study. It also says how to protect future generations from its health consequences.
Dr. Melinda Sothern, Director of Health Promotion and Professor of Public Health at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans conducted the study.
"The combination of prenatal tobacco use, infant formula, and frequent pregnancies- i.e., the obesity trinity-synergistically created the first generation of nutritionally programmed youth, the baby-boomers," wrote Sothern.
"Suburban living, value-priced fast food, cable TV, and computers sealed their fate. Now in their 50s and 60s, this generation has the highest prevalence of obesity in history, triple that of their parents. Of more concern are their obese children, many programmed due to maternal obesity and gestational diabetes," she said.
Her highest concern is for the grandchildren of baby-boomers, 6-year-olds with metabolic syndrome and the obese adolescents with hypertension, type 2 diabetes or non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, so resistant to treatment that the only solution may be bariatric surgery.
Sothern believes that efforts should focus on three opportunities for change-at the beginning of pregnancy, prior to puberty when metabolism may likely be set for life, and in the years leading up to motherhood. Her advice:
Intense nutrition and physical activity behavioural counselling begin at the first obstetrical visit and continue until the child enters preschool.
Preschoolers be provided opportunities at home, in school, and throughout the community to engage in free play most of their waking hours, offered appropriately portioned, nutrient dense foods in designated areas away from media distractions.
High quality weight-management programs with intense behavioural counselling be available to families with already obese youth.
The paper is published in the August 27, 2010 issue of Childhood Obesity.