Magazine article The Nation's Health

Addressing Childhood Obesity Requires Community Approach

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Addressing Childhood Obesity Requires Community Approach

Article excerpt

HUMOR CAN be an ideal way to draw attention to serious issues. I recall a cartoon depicting a car filled with children stopping at a fast food outlet to pick up high-fat, high-sugar meals, replete with burgers, fries and shakes. A clerk is shown passing the food from one window, while at the next one, a worker charges a defibrillator, implying an imminent heart attack. This illustration depicts an unfortunate reality.

As a result of their unhealthy weight and lifestyles, an increasing number of U.S. children are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. The concentration of fast food outlets in communities where there are high rates of childhood obesity show that the issue is another example of health inequity as a manifestation of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Within the growing U.S. and global crisis of childhood obesity, dramatic barriers to health exist. At the Center for Health Equity, an initiative of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness in Kentucky, health workers have helped community children share their personal experiences with such barriers. Through the center's Photovoice Digital Story Telling Project, elementary school students used digital cameras to document problems in their neighborhoods. Their stories paint a graphic picture of forces that significantly affect their lives and health.

"Every day I go to the community center, on the side of it they are selling drugs or showing off their guns and sometimes I am scared to walk pass because I think they will shoot me," said one student. …

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