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Pulling out the sandbags to save the nation

Nutrition expert says we'll need all our resources to battle obesity

On the surface, it sounded like the all-too-familiar health and happiness mantra — eat less and move more.

But Dr. David Katz had a compelling twist on that tried-and-true prescription as he spoke to a packed house at Community Hospital’s annual meeting for Community Hospital Foundation and the Auxiliary. Katz didn’t place the blame for our nation’s expanding collective waistline on individuals, he placed it on society.

“When 80 percent of the people are overweight, and some 80 million are insulin-resistant, that’s a public health problem,” said Katz, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on nutrition, weight control, and the prevention of chronic disease. “We need not just willpower; we need skillpower. The solution falls to all of us to fix the world around us.”

The reasons we find ourselves in this portly predicament? Try the 40-percent increase — since World War II — in the size of our dinner plates. The all-you-can-eat buffets. The convenience of computers. “Why would we eat ourselves to death?” Katz says. “Because we can. “It’s very simple — we eat too much, we do too little. Wake up and smell the Slim-Fast®.”

Katz says we should be particularly troubled by the skyrocketing incidence of type 2 diabetes — formerly known as adult-onset diabetes — in children.  “The chronic disease of midlife has become the pediatric scourge of those under age 10,” says Katz, who noted diabetes’ frequent role in the development of heart disease. “If we have 7-and 8-year-old kids getting adult-onset diabetes, we’re going to have 17-and 18-year-olds getting heart surgeries.”

So what can we do? Everything, says Katz. From banning television commercials promoting nutritionally void foods to making recess a priority in schools to changing food labels to something more easily digestible, Katz says it’s going to take a universal effort.

“The only way to hold back the floodwaters is to do everything,” says Katz. “There will be no quick fix, no hocus pocus.”

For tips you can incorporate into your own life, log on to Dr. Katz’s web site

In other annual meeting news, Carsbia W. Anderson, Jr., Shelley Claudel, James J. Didion, Mark Vierra, MD, and Roxanne Wilde were named to the Community Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees, while Jon Ellison, MD, took over as Chief of Staff. Retiring members are Kathleen Hicks, George E. Miller, Jr., The Hon. Leon E. Panetta, Geraldine C. Taplin, MD, and Barry Gendelman, MD.

2007 Board of Trustees: (top row from left) Ian Arnof, vice chair; James J. Didion; Stephen M. Dart; Carsbia Anderson, Jr.; George W. Couch, III; Steven J. Packer, MD, president/CEO; Ted J. Balestreri; Jay Hudson, CH Endowments; John Ellison, MD, chief of staff; Laurie Benjamin, secretary; (bottom row from left) Mark Vierra, MD; Roxanne Wilde, Auxiliary president; Frank C. Amato; Beverly C. Hamilton, chair; H. James Griggs; Shelley Claudel.

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