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EDITORIAL: We can't afford to lose childhood obesity fight
[November 09, 2012]

EDITORIAL: We can't afford to lose childhood obesity fight

Nov 09, 2012 (Moscow-Pullman Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- There are myriad reasons for today's epidemic of obesity, from body chemistry to lack of physical activity to improper nutrition.

It is the diet component over which we have the most control but that's just in theory. In practice, many families find good nutritional habits often supplanted by convenience.

And it's not just adults. About one-third of children in Washington and Idaho are overweight or obese.

And the rate is climbing.

The answer would seem simple enough -- teach children and parents about proper nutrition.

But it is not. Too many obstacles stand in the way.

Fast food chains target children in their advertising with flash and collectable toys with each meal. Nothing like a family dinner served out of a neon-framed drive-thru window.

Snack foods are everywhere and doled out too often to deal with hunger. The edge is taken off with an infusion of sugar, salt and fat.

Face it -we've all been there. Who wouldn't eat a handful of greasy potato chips instead of broccoli or Brussels sprouts.

Then there are the doughnuts and sucrose-spiked beverages -- all contributing excess calories that are stored and not fully burned off.

It's no wonder childhood obesity is considered a national epidemic.

The USDA is working to address the problem with grants that target some of the causes of obesity -- and nutrition is rightly in the cross hairs.

Washington State University, with the help of a $2.5 million USDA grant, is developing an after-school program for youth and parents to help participants properly decode media messages that bombard them and to identify trustworthy sources of information.

University of Idaho research is focusing on eating habit of adults, child nutrition, childcare providers and how all that works together to support healthy eating in a child.

Moscow and Pullman school districts are on top of the changing federal regulations regarding nutrition and doing what is necessary to ensure the districts' students have access to a healthy diet.

Childhood obesity has no simple answer -- fighting it is a multifront war. And one of the hardest parts to overcome is the years of poor eating habits that brought us to this point.

No matter how much we may groan about it, the alternative is not an option.

___ (c)2012 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) Visit the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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