Dr. David Chiriboga on Facing Obesity as a Global Epidemic

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Dr. David Chiriboga obtained his postgraduate training in Preventive Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and School of Public Health. He designed and implemented a comprehensive healthcare system for the indigenous people in central Ecuador 1988-2001. He served as Minister of Health in Ecuador (2010-11) where he undertook a major re-structure of the healthcare system of the country.

Dr. Chiriboga argues obesity is a “global public health crisis and urgent action in prevention is required.”

A recent publication by Flórez, et al, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) points out the influence of migration to the US over increased prevalence of obesity among first and second generation Mexican Americans, and describes the typical US diet as “obesogenic.” I agree with this conclusion, which highlights the relative greater importance of external factors (environment) over internal factors (genes) in determining body weight composition. However I would go a step further and characterize Western lifestyle as “obesogenic,” due to a triad of excessive caloric intake, sedentary life, and high levels of stress. Excess weight and obesity affect not only people in the US, but also have become a global epidemic, particularly in urban populations. The significance of this phenomenon lies in the fact that excess weight and obesity are preventable risk factors for the main causes of disease and death in the world, including type II diabetes, heart disease and stroke, as well as some forms of cancer. In order to confront this worldwide epidemic, comprehensive approaches need to be developed urgently, focusing on prevention, particularly in children, since once established, being overweight and obesity are extremely complex to resolve.

Continue reading “Facing Obesity as a Global Epidemic at the Aspire Wire.

Would you categorize obesity as a global epidemic? Dr. Chiriboga thinks “schools can play a vital role in this challenge, by developing comprehensive curricula and interventions focused on prevention.” How else can we address this problem?

Dr. Chiriboga will be one of many speakers at Wheelock College’s International Conference. Follow the link for more information about how you can attend the conference. 

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  1. One of the most alarming trend I notice since returning to the classroom a few years ago is an obsession with snacks. It is common practice in many suburban schools to have two snack times, in addition to lunch. Parents pack the most convenient foods (bags of cookies, crackers, fruit snack) and kids are eating carbs all day long. I’m seriously alarmed by this trend and feel that schools could play a role by limiting kids to 1 snack period and a lunch time during the school day. I feel like kids are being tempted to eat even when they aren’t even hungry, just because everyone else is. We are interfering with their natural cues and cycles. Do we need to pass some sort of legislation to protect children’s health in this regard?