Breaking News! Maybe Fat People Aren’t Just Lazy!

by Shannon Rasp May 6, 2011 03:23 PM

People often make snap judgments about my lifestyle by how I look. Since I am a chubster, I must sit around all day shoveling Little Debbie snack cakes into my gaping maw and washing myself with a rag on a stick. I obviously don’t care about how I look. And since I’m overweight, it goes without saying that I’m stupid, too. See, I’m not aware that I’m fat. I need to have it pointed out to me at every opportunity. And I don’t know that all I have to do is eat less and exercise more, and the excess pounds will just drop off!


For years, conventional wisdom has held that overweight people are lazy food addicts. But in a new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, researchers were shocked to find that obese patients actually did exercise! Of 175 overweight or obese patients who visited clinics run or owned by nurse practitioners in Spokane, Washington, 29% had been exercising for six months, and 39% regularly exercised. Only 12% of the patients said they had no interest in getting active.


The lead researcher, who was “surprised” at the level of exercise reported, commented that the study showed that “just because someone is overweight does not mean they are not exercising or considering it.” I know, right? This is shocking stuff!


On one hand, I’m happy that someone actually did a study on this. It demonstrates to others that overweight people are actually interested in being active. On the other hand, I’m annoyed that this study even had to be done, and was considered to be so notable that it was published in a prestigious journal.


Obesity is one area in which there has been a dearth of KT. Too many people – including doctors – buy into the old chestnut that eating less and exercising more will cure every single person’s weight problems. That is a vicious lie. There are many reasons why some people are doomed to be overweight, and to dismiss all obese people as lazy gluttons is ignorant. Yet the medical community, by and large, has done nothing to enlighten people, leading to a sad lack of knowledge to translate.


Obviously, this is an issue I feel personally peeved about. Do you think there are other health topics that suffer from the same lack of KT? If so, tell me in the comments!

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High-Speed Growing Pains

by Marlisa Allen April 15, 2011 12:01 PM

I read an article in USA Today that focused on a little girl named Laila, who entered puberty at the age of six. Yes, that was my reaction, too … six years old!  How could this happen? And is there anyone out there doing knowledge translation for the parents of children who enter puberty so early?


Researchers believe a number of reasons are contributing to this phenomenon, including environmental chemicals and estrogen-like hormones found in hard plastics and metal can linings called Bisphenol A, which can affect the adolescent hormone system. Other possible causes include premature birth weights, stress, excessive time spent in front of the television, and obesity.


The CDC reports that an estimated 16.9% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years are obese.  My colleague Shannon’s recent blog discussed two Chicago schools that banned children from bringing their lunches to school. Interesting timing of these two articles – one discussing children throwing away uneaten over-processed “nutritious” school food and the other highlighting obesity as the “clearest influence on the age of puberty.” 


After reading the USA Today article and Shannon’s blog, I had a light bulb moment: are we as a society contributing to this growth phenomenon by putting limits on what our children can and can’t eat? I can’t help but feel like we are responsible for this because adults make decisions for children. And adults know best, right? <Cue the “Jeopardy” theme music.>


The article went on to state, “Early puberty increases girls' odds of depression, drinking, drug use, eating disorders, behavioral problems and attempted suicide … (and) at higher risk for breast and uterine cancers, likely because they're exposed to estrogen for a longer period of time.” So, as if adolescence isn’t hard enough already, now young girls are faced with the possibility of serious health risks, as well as social, mental and behavioral problems because they are being “catapulted into adolescence long before their brains are ready for the change.”


Laila’s father, Joe, talked about the sleepless nights he and his wife have had regarding their daughters’ accelerated maturation, and if they are making the right decision about to slow the course of Mother Nature.  Laila’s doctors recommended slowing down her development by having her undergo monthly hormone injections. Joe and his wife decided that would be too traumatizing for Laila, because of her fear of needles. They eventually settled on a type of hormone therapy that is implanted beneath the skin once a year through a minor surgery. 


To date, Laila has had two implants. She is now nine years old. This option, albeit less frequently applied, is the more invasive procedure and still seems to me as though it would be just as traumatizing for a nine year-old girl. In any case, it’s a grueling decision for any parent to have to make.


While researchers understand the physiological reasons why accelerated maturation or precocious puberty happens, specific causes are often not found. Thus, parents that have children dealing with this disorder are often left with little to no answers about prevention or treatment. The Mayo Clinic  and the National Institutes of Health are two reputable agencies that parents can turn to for help. Their websites offer symptoms, causes, risk factors, treatment options, etc. about precocious puberty that can help parents decide the best path to take with their child.


Unfortunately, Laila is not the only little girl being propelled into puberty at an early age. The article states that “about 15% of American girls now begin puberty by age seven.” I have a four year-old daughter who will be five in June. Now I have to wrap my head around the idea of having a serious conversation with my daughter a year from now if Mother Nature decides to knock early on her door …sleepless nights indeed!

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If Kids Eat Candy, Do the Terrorists Win?

by Shannon Rasp December 17, 2010 01:44 PM

Michelle Obama, who has embraced child obesity as her “cause” while her husband is president, recently stated that one in four young adults is “too fat” for military service. This, she claims, is a “threat to national security.”


This incident popped into my head while I was reading Nick’s blog on Wednesday about how politicians would benefit from some knowledge translation training. Childhood (and adult) obesity is a national health crisis. It costs billions of dollars a year, causes a variety of co-morbidities, and is largely avoidable. As a chubster, I know I would feel a heck of a lot better if I could lose the excess weight I’m hauling around. While it is a major problem, it is not a threat to national security.


Why? Simple math. There are fewer than one and a half million Americans on active military duty at any given time. Meanwhile, there are over 75 million children in this country. Now, my math skills are beyond atrocious, but even I know that if you subtract a quarter of all children from this total, that still leaves over 56 million kids for 1.4 million places.  That seems like a pretty big pool to choose from. 


Obama should be commended for her willingness to tackle a difficult subject. But she needs to learn that scare tactics and melodramatic statements do not help her cause. Knowledge translation is just that – the sharing of knowledge, not hyperbole. Bill Novelli addressed this issue in KT Exchange podcast #4, which members can listen to on the site. What do you think?  Do you have any favorite hysterical statements by politicians? Or do you disagree with me? Let me know in the comments!

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