News & Events

Expert offers hope to curb obesity

January 20, 2012

A nationally known nutrition expert who helped invent the NuVAL nutritional guidance program told more than 150 people that working together they can overcome the obesity epidemic.

“Obesity is our gravest health concern in this country and most out of control,” said David Katz, MD.  “It is taking years from life and life from years.”

Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and Founder and President of the Turn the Tide Foundation, Dr. Katz was invited to speak to a full house of community leaders, social service agencies and healthcare professionals on reversing the obesity trend in the U.S.

Sponsored by the New London County Health Collaborative, New London County Food Policy Council and Children First Southeastern Connecticut, Dr. Katz’s Jan. 18 seminar brought an eye-opening awareness to a health issue that plagues our nation.

It also is the number one health issue facing eastern Connecticut, according to a 2010 Backus health needs assessment.

Dr. Katz explained that there has been a shift in the perspective of chronic diseases over the last 20 years.  Two decades ago, for example, heart attack and cancer were listed as leading causes of death in our country.  Today, obesity is viewed as a root cause of these illnesses and premature death among Americans.

“If knowledge were power and we made good lifestyle habits, we could change our medical destinies,” said Dr. Katz.  “We could reduce heart attacks by 80%, diabetes by 90% and cancer by 60%.”

Dr. Katz acknowledged that we face many societal blocks to maintaining healthy habits – namely an abundance of high-calorie, low-nutrition convenience foods and sedentary lifestyles.

“Before we can ask people to take responsibility for obesity, they must be empowered,” he said.  “They must have the skills and tools.  At the end of the day, we can’t change someone’s environment, but we can pave the way to provide programming.  If we want to stop the flood and turn the tide, we need to build a levee.  If we all stack bags of sand, we can build that levee.”

In addition to developing the NuVAL nutritional guidance program, Dr. Katz has developed these tools:

 

  • ABCs (Activity Bursts for Children) for Fitness – six, five-minute “bursts” of structured activity in the classroom give children 30 total minutes of exercise each day.
  • ABE for Fitness – similar to the above program, but designed for adults to do in the home or at work in business attire.
  • Nutrition Detectives – a 90-minute food label literacy program for children in English and Spanish.
  • On-line Weight Management Counseling for Healthcare Professionals – offers guidance for physicians to teach patients about nutrition.
  • National Exchange for Weight Loss Resistance – offers support to individuals who despite exercising and eating well have a hard time losing weight.
  • Businesses Applying Wellness Strategies in Schools – links local businesses with schools to sponsor wellness programs.
  • Weigh>>Forward – a family-friendly, skill-based nutrition program piloted in Texas.

Many of Dr. Katz’s programs are free and are available for download on the Internet.  For more information, visit http://www.turnthetidefoundation.org/programs.htm