Health expert, first lady target childhood obesity

Friday, July 26, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Former Surgeon General David Satcher is leading an effort to reduce obesity among children and plans a national summit of health and education experts to discuss ways to trim the fat.

"This is not about appearances. It is not about cosmetics or aesthetics," Satcher said. "It is about health."

First lady Laura Bush will serve as honorary chairman at the gathering Oct. 7-8 in Washington.

As surgeon general, Satcher issued a report in December saying that obesity may soon overtake smoking as the chief cause of preventable deaths.

Some 60 percent of adults are overweight or obese, as are nearly 13 percent of children.

The rate has been rising for a decade and threatens to wipe out progress fighting cancer, heart disease and other ailments, Satcher warned.

Like adults, children tend to eat more calories than they work off. But unlike adults, youngsters are supervised by schools that have a responsibility to encourage more exercise and better eating habits, Satcher said.

Dozens of government agencies and other organizations are sponsoring the summit.


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