Over the past 10 years, health care has begun to evolve from sick care to the prevention and support of total health and wellness. We now understand that it isn’t the doctor’s job to keep us healthy; it’s our job to care for ourselves. This means that individuals and families see their medical providers before they are sick to talk about their well-being and lifestyle. Then, individuals and families receive medical direction on what they can do to remain healthy or gain their health back.

“I ask patients what they eat, what they drink, how they move or exercise and how they sleep to get a better idea how to help them feel better,” said Susan Keasling, M.D. Then, Keasling talks with each patient to find out where they can make small changes that will help their overall health and well-being. Patients are walking more each day, eating more fruits and vegetables or reducing the number of sodas they drink each week.

According to the State of Obesity Report 2015, if the U.S. continues on the current trend of overweight and obesity, more than 65 percent of the adult U.S. population will be overweight by 2015. This statistic also means that millions more Americans will need in-depth and costly medical care to treat one or more chronic diseases that often occur with overweight and obesity. The percentage of children with newly diagnosed Type II diabetes has increased from 5 percent prior to 1994 to nearly 50 percent in 2006. Hypertension occurs nine times more frequently in obese children and teens. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart kidney failure, stroke, heart attack and vision loss. Other negative health outcomes are asthma, sleep apnea, skin infections, and complaints of joint pain. For all of these reasons it is important to prevent childhood obesity by identifying overweight and obese children quickly so they can begin treatment and attain and maintain a healthy weight.

Key Solutions

Although many are aware of this growing health epidemic and need advice from their medical provider, in 2011 only 25 percent of overweight adults in Douglas County were counseled by their physician about their unhealthy weight.

Here’s how you can take the initiative to ensure you’re doing your part to battle this epidemic:

  • Be a healthy role model for your patients and address lifestyle issues in your own office or hospital
  • Be an advocate for breastfeeding and support the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative
  • Measure your patients’ body-mass-index (BMI) on an annual basis, looking for unhealthy weight trends
  • Counsel your patients and their parents about BMI and healthy lifestyles
  • Advocate for environmental approaches at institutional, local, state, and  federal levels through speaking, writing, and collaborating with others

Community Resources

Making your community a healthier place doesn’t have to start from the ground up. There are already great tools and programs that exist in the community:

Take Action

Change starts with YOU. Here are some simple ways for you to take immediate action:

  • Encourage your patients to breastfeed and educate them on the benefits
  • Download the  5-4-3-2-1 Go!® countdown materials to use to discuss healthy lifestyles with families and post the Live Well Omaha Kids BMI chart in your patient rooms for easy access.
  • Advocate for state and national legislation improving school nutrition and access to healthy foods, and restricting food advertising targeted at children–starting with the schools in which your children attend.
  • Advocate to implement healthy eating policies for employees, patients, and visitors in the hospitals in which you work.
  • Tell stories from your practice about overweight children who do not spend time outside because they lack safe places to play in their neighborhoods—this may capture attention better than dry statistics.

Check out our Take Action Now page for additional ideas and resources to start making change in your school, at home or in your community.