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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words

June 20, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Finding a cure for childhood obesity

Posted by Letters editor

Lower income means higher chance for disease

We appreciate The Seattle Times’ recent articles on childhood obesity that helped increase awareness of the issue [“Struggling for a winning strategy against obesity,” page one, June 12]. In follow-up to the series, Seattle Children’s wants to express its strong support for the efforts being put forth by Public Health, Seattle and King County (PHSKC) and its partners, who are improving environments and enabling policies that facilitate healthy eating and physical activity.

Our research confirms that in King County, lower-income families and families in communities with poor access to healthy food and environments conducive to physical activity have significantly higher childhood obesity rates. We can’t wait any longer to make broad sweeping changes that would give our children access to better nutrition and physical activity opportunities.

PHSKC and its partners, including Seattle Children’s, are helping to identify which strategies and initiatives have the greatest opportunity for reducing childhood obesity in our community and nationally. We are privileged to live in a county and state that is proactively working to find the best solutions for improving our neighborhoods and our children’s long-term health.

We have only started and have a long way to go. We encourage neighborhoods, governments, local health-care organizations and other institutions to continue to prioritize combating obesity. These efforts are needed to help put actionable plans into place that provide our children with more healthy eating and fitness opportunities.

— Mollie H. Grow, assistant professor of pediatrics, University of Washington, Lenna Liu, associate professor of pediatrics, University of Washington, Mo Pomietto, manager of the Obesity Program, Brian E. Saelens, associate professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle

Diabetes prevalent with childhood obesity

I am writing in response to the piece on fighting childhood obesity. Obese children tend to be overweight as adults and obesity has a nexus to diabetes.

According to a study recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we can expect one in three Americans to have diabetes by 2050. Diabetes is one of the biggest and most expensive health risks facing this country. If we want to lower health-care costs (both publicly and personally), we must stop diabetes.

We have a pathway authorized to achieve this goal — it just needs funding. It is called the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDDP), which is based on the work of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH’s clinical trials found even modest changes in lifestyle have a tremendous impact on an individual’s ability to avoid diabetes and its complications.

The NDDP rolls this research out on a national scale, thereby preventing the blindness, amputation, heart disease and kidney failure people with diabetes face every day. The National Diabetes Prevention Program will save our country money.

The Urban Institute estimated a nationwide expansion of this type of diabetes-prevention program will save $190 billion over 10 years. Research shows even small investments in prevention ($300 per person) can bring dramatic results.

On behalf of the 105 million Americans with diabetes or pre-diabetes, I ask Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, along with our entire federal delegation, and the Obama administration, to fully fund the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

— Scott Heinze, board chair, Western Washington Leadership Council, American Diabetes Association, Tacoma

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