Tom Robinson, MD, doesn't mince words. Obesity in kids is "an epidemic, almost a pandemic spreading across the world," he told me. He was recently awarded a research grant from the NIH that seeks to break the mold and reinvent treatment programs for childhood obesity.
"Traditional medical care doesn't address obesity particularly well," Robinson explained. "It's geared toward the medical aspects of the problem, not its behavioral or environmental components. This grant is an opportunity to say, ’What if we start from scratch with a new model? How would be build a treatment program that uses existing resources in the medical care system, the community, and families to approach childhood obesity?'"
In my latest 1:2:1 podcast I talked with Robinson about the successful treatment program for obese kids that he runs at the Center for Healthy Weight at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. He pointed to social and cultural trends in the U.S. and worldwide that he believes are encouraging kids to pack on the pounds. "We've engineered most physical activity out of our lives,” Robinson told me. The lack of exercise coupled with the ubiquitous “marketing of tasty food on cell phones, iPods and the Internet sends a message of more, more, more. Everything is about consumption. The marketers are way ahead of us in public health."