KTTU "In Focus," Sunday 6/13/10, 10:30 AM; KMSB "Fox-11 Forum," Sunday, 6/20/10, 7:30 AM

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Dr. Tracey Kurtzman, Asst. Prof. of Pediatrics, U of A College of Medicine. Childhood obesity continues to be viewed as a major public health concern in the U.S.  A report in the May 3 edition of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine indicated 31-percent of Arizona’s children are overweight. 

Dr. Kurtzman saiys in addition, 17-percent of Arizona’s children are obese.  She says “obesity” is defined as a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems.  She says lifestyle, diet and genetics are all to blame, as well as socio-economics.  She says cheap food is generally unhealthy, there’s no mandate for schools to provide phys ed classes, and kids are more sedentary due to the increased use of computers and related devices.  She says each year in her clinic she sees more and more kids with health issues made worse by obesit. such as asthma, joint problems and type II diabetes.  She said obesity can even cause sleep apnea in kids. 

Dr. Kurtzman created “Ready, Set, StartSmart!” a prevention program that provides pediatricians with an efficient, easily-implemented clinic tool for prevention of primary obesity in children from birth through age 5.  She says the goal is to provide parents with simple techniques for keeping their baby’s weight where it belongs.  She says refrigerator magnets remind parents that breastfeeding reduces their newborn’s chances of becoming overweight.

Dr. Kurtzman also says she has developed a childhood obesity curriculum for her medical students at the U of A.  She says it includes teaching doctors about the factors that contribute to childhood obesity.