Watching the children’s crusade against guns and the National Rifle Association has inspired me to think that maybe our kids can redeem a country that somehow elected this president, exploded the national debt, and handed them an epidemic of opioids and obesity.
In the case of obesity, the trajectory is not good. A few years ago, it seemed to the pundits when the rise in childhood obesity seemed to have started to come down, or at least plateau, that we had finally figured out what to do and we were doing it. More time has shown that that was just a statistical blip in an overall steady increase.1 The recent issue of Pediatrics2 with the study demonstrating the falsity of this optimism had an accompanying editorial by Dr. David Ludwig. For those of you sitting in the back row, remember Dr. Ludwig is a pediatric endocrinologist at Harvard who writes frequent commentary in The New England Journal of Medicine and The Journal of the American Medical Association that always seems to get my panties in a wad. He usually says that the epidemic of obesity in children is all about sugar and drinking too much Coca-Cola, yada yada yada. He said in this latest editorial, “The battle against childhood obesity faces many obstacles, most notably entrenched special interests and a business-as-usual mindset.”3
So I e-mailed him. “Dear Dr. Ludwig, With all due respect, maybe the wrong ‘business-as-usual mindset’ is yours.” To which he replied, “Perhaps. But with the rather limited factual basis for your suggestion, I’ll plod ahead for the time being.” To which I replied with gobs of factual basis. Readers of my column, Fat Science, are very familiar with all that. So I won’t go into it again here and now.
Still, I am optimistic that these impressive kids, using science, will solve all our problems.
2. Skinner AC et al. Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in US Children, 1999–2016. Pediatrics Feb 2018, e20173459; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2017-3459
3. Ludwig DS. Epidemic Childhood Obesity: Not Yet the End of the Beginning. Pediatrics Feb 2018, e20174078; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2017-4078
John DiTraglia, M.D., is a pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 740-354-6605.