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At Childhood Obesity Forum, Talk Of Twinkies And Intervention

Posted Nov 19 2012 8:45pm

From The Hartford Courant…..

State Public Health Commissioner Jewel Mullen called for silence in memory of the Twinkie on Monday, a lighter moment during a forum on childhood obesity that drew community health advocates and school nutrition directors from across the state.

Members of the Connecticut Coalition Against Childhood Obesity, which organized the forum, said there needs to be extensive intervention, beginning with prenatal care, to curb the “epidemic” that is linked to chronic health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

A report that the state public health department released last month revealed that one-third of students in kindergarten and third grade are overweight or obese, including a higher percentage among black and Latino children. The study was based on data from about 8,000 students in 74 elementary schools.

State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said the health disparities and the achievement gap are related and that educators must push for “the whole child to succeed.” Connecticut’s application for a federal waiver from the No Child Left Behind law included a pledge to make fitness part of a long-term plan.

The state’s education reform bill, approved in May, requires at least 20 minutes of physical activity each day for public school students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

“We should show students that there can be self-efficacy, there can be optimism,” Pryor told the crowd at the state Legislative Office Building.

Psychology Professor Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, argued Monday that education campaigns on health and nutrition have not worked and that governments should limit access to the “toxic” food and drinks that contribute to the rising number of diabetes cases and the burden of health-care costs.

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