Nutrition Education Helps Prevent Childhood Obesity

Richard Bogren  |  10/17/2007 11:09:35 PM

News Release Distributed 10/17/07

Children are getting fatter, and the solution to long-term obesity is to improve nutrition education of children, a leading nutrition expert told a packed lecture hall at the LSU AgCenter on World Food Day, Oct. 16.

Dr. Jaime Rozowski of the Department of Nutrition at Pontifical Catholic University School of Medicine in Santiago, Chile, delivered a lecture on the problems of childhood obesity. He used research data from Chile to illustrate what he suggested is a growing worldwide problem.

“Obesity does not have the importance it should have,” Rozowski said. “Adult obese people face being obese for the rest of their lives.”

Louisiana is the second fattest state behind Mississippi, LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson said as he opened the World Food Day seminar.

“The paradox is that malnutrition and obesity exist side by side in many areas of poverty,” he said.

Richardson said World Food Day is a worldwide program addressing issues of poverty and malnutrition.

“We have a major problem in this state with teenage obesity,” Richardson said. “It involves poor nutrition and lifestyles. Proper nutrition planning takes work and commitment. We as a state need to take this on as one of our challenges.”

The world population is growing by 73 million people a year, said Ken Koonce, dean of the LSU College of Agriculture.

Koonce said world nutrition faces three issues – the growing number of mouths to feed, the continued production of adequate quantities of food and the distribution of that food.

Rozowski, who formerly was on the faculty at Columbia University in New York, spoke about the growing problem of obesity in Chile and the rest of South America.

“Forty years ago, we were undernourished,” Rozowski said. “Our problem today is obesity.”

Rozowski said 30 percent of all health expenses are related to obesity, which contributes to many nontransmittable chronic diseases.

Rozowski attributes Chile’s growing obesity problem to a number of factors, including an increasingly urban population, longer life expectancy, growing per-capita income, lower infant mortality and lower birth rates.

In a study comparing underweight people to obese people, per-capita income in the range of $4,500 to $5,000 appears to be the “breaking point” for obesity to begin to surface, Rozowski said.

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Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839, or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

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