Thanks to Catherine Wright for writing about the crisis of childhood obesity on the front page (CHN Jan. 25). If you haven't seen the ads mentioned in her piece, please, take a look, strong4life.com
Georgia spent $50 million on this campaign which uses hired child actors to give warnings on the Internet, television and billboards about childhood obesity. Many viewers have described the ads as shocking. But is this really the best use of money to address the problem of childhood obesity? We don't think so.
First of all, children who are overweight are shamed and stigmatized every day of their lives. When you feel shamed or stigmatized, you are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors. Second, children who are overweight or obese are often teased and/or bullied by their peers. Did you know that the most common reason children are teased is because of their weight? The Georgia campaign, with its public negative portrayal of this already vulnerable group of children, seems cruel.
Lastly, the campaign offers no help or possible solutions. Where should a shocked parent turn for help?
Helping a child diagnosed with obesity is not as simple as going on a juice diet like the one that helped Ms. Wright lose weight. Pediatric obesity can sometimes be the result of a genetic problem. Effective treatment may need to involve medical experts in pediatrics, endocrinology, cardiology, and orthopedics. Registered dieticians, mental health professionals, and physical therapists may also be needed. Coaching and support for the whole family about how to make lifestyle changes is also, often, an important component.
If you have concerns about your child's weight, speak first to your pediatrician. Alternatively, you or your doctor can schedule an evaluation for your child at Duke Children's Healthy Lifestyles Program (620-5356) where high quality medical care and positive coaching and training without shock or shame are always the standard.Meryl KanferSarah ArmstrongThe writers are a licensed clinical social worker and doctor respectively. Don't ignore stigma
We read Catherine Wright's "My View" column with dismay. Her central thesis, that our country faces a serious obesity epidemic largely because parents and other adults are too afraid to speak frankly about overweight and obesity, is not borne out by the evidence.
Overweight and obese children and adults face cruel and hurtful words and images at every turn. To ignore the destructive impact of stigma and endorse media campaigns, which leverage shame and embarrassment to change behavior, will likely only perpetuate obesity, not cure it.
Blaming the rise of obesity and overweight on a failure of personal responsibility (not to mention clothing sizes) ignores the complicated multi-faceted nature of the obesity epidemic. We all face an increasingly obesogenic environment in which calorie-dense food is cheap, widely-available, and designed to keep you wanting more, and there are vanishingly few opportunities for physical activity. How our bodies respond to that environment depends in part on our genetic sensitivity to it and our economic and societal resources to choose healthy alternatives.
We wish that the Chapel Hill News would rely more on the on wealth of expertise at UNC Chapel Hill including the School of Medicine and the Gillings School of Global Public Health to foster an informed discussion of overweight and obesity and behavioral weight management. We are doing the necessary research to figure out the best ways for parents and pediatricians to communicate weight status insensitive ways and to motivate healthy behavior change without stigma.Stephanie ZerwasAssociate research directorUNC Eating Disorders ProgramCynthia BulikDistinguished Professor of Eating Disorders and Professor of NutritionDirector, UNC Eating Disorders ProgramEliana PerrinAssociate professorDepartment of PediatricsAsheley Cockrell SkinnerAssistant professorDepartment of PediatricsAmen to that
In response to Michael Jacobs of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, who submitted the excellent column "Elected officials don't get finance" (CHN, Jan. 28), we have one thing to say: amen that someone has finally brought up a subject that certainly needs addressing.
We also own residences in both Wilmington and Chapel Hill. We have a three-story home overlooking the waterfront sound at Wrightsville Beach and our property taxes are $5,012. Our house in Chapel Hill that's located in an older neighborhood of split-level homes built in the l950s lists its property taxes at $6,593.
Unlike Mr. Jacobs however, we in addition own commercial property in downtown Chapel Hill which also poses a huge tax burden to us. We very much feel the "disconnect" of our local government from the reality on the ground. Our tenants are struggling to compete the best they can in this flailing economy, but ultimately it transcends to landlords having to collect rent a little at a time or more frequently not at all.
Another point to make is why does a county this size of ours have only one department store, namely Dillards? Ironically, the town was considering replacing the store for the library expansion a few months ago! This is positive proof of the "anti-business" attitude of our elected officials as we see millions of tax dollars going to neighboring counties with prosperous shopping centers and yes, the hated big-box stores.Helen PaliourasChapel Hill Don't fast track
Chapel Hill 2020 is a sham.
While citizens have been working on sincere input to shape the town's new comprehensive plan, town government and powerful developers are quietly considering fast-tracking a massive mega-complex across from Southern Village.
WCHL reported Jan. 27 that at that morning's meeting of the Town Council's Economic Development Committee - with Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and council members Matt Czajkowski, Laurin Easthom, Ed Harrison, Gene Pease and Jim Ward all in attendance - "developer Roger Perry says 'a major national retailer' is interested in opening a store" at Obey Creek, "but Perry told council members it may be necessary to fast-track the process."
So while people beg for CH2020 facilitators to grant badly needed additional time to complete the good work of this process, the town is listening to a powerful developer talk of circumventing the whole thing in an area of town that - even under the current comprehensive plan and the single-family-housing-only zoning in that area - you still can't justify considering such a titanic development.
Do you realize the hours people have vested in this 2020 process? What a joke! I, for one, wish I could get my time back.Joe BuonfiglioChapel Hill Failed solutions
The Republicans have restored comedy to our nation, reviving the Three Stooges slap-stick routine for American TV!
Yet these same politicos avoid mentioning the name of that enduring two-term Republican president - George Bush! It is the Bush impetus, Father and Son, that led to our current political and economic mess. While avoiding reference to the Bushies, current Republican politicos have proposed a series of cures based on the failed Bush-induced solutions.
Where Bush declared war on Afghanistan and Iraq, Rick Santorum wants to bomb Iran soonest! When Bush reduced taxes for the rich the U.S. budget lost trillions of dollars to date. Yet Romney wants to reduce the "rich-tax" even more. Romney also has his $250 million fortune stashed away with Goldman-Sach via his good friend, Henry Paulson, former prexy of Goldman-Sachs, who, under Bush's direction, gave away billions from the U.S. Treasury to help bolster the Wall Street robber barons. Romney will no doubt follow Paulson's lead as the next Savior of the Robber Barons.
Though it is difficult to identify actual proposals from Gingrich, one is immediately struck by his having combined the personalities of two of Bush's most "famous" advisers: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. The former speaker has all the " I am always right" ego of Cheney and the "I know best what is needed for a successful war - please don't bother me with questions" that flowed from the now disgraced Rumsfeld.
The Three Stooges, indeed!!Bill SommersPittsboro
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