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Childhood obesity requires congressional attention, panelists say

March 27, 2009
by LAUREN C. WILLIAMS
Belleville News-Democrat

Former Maryland school nurse Donna Mazyck once had a student not only go off the charts, but completely off the scale.

In her testimony on the need for fitness and nutrition education in schools to members of Congress Thursday she recalled a student who asked if she could weigh herself.

Before Mazyck had the chance to help, the girl said, "This scale doesn't work!" Mazyck looked and realized that the scale was not broken, but that the girl weighed more than the highest weight the scale could register - 250 pounds...

Among Maryland high school students, 10 percent are considered obese and 15 percent are overweight, said Audrey Regan, director for the Office of Chronic Disease Program, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Almost 15 percent of Maryland's low-income children ages 2 to 5 are obese.

Some of these children have developed high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea. Many suffer from bone and joint problems and poor self-esteem, said Regan.

"Small interventions can have great effects on health" and health care policy, said panelist Richard Hamburg, director of government relations for Trust for America's Health.

"We can reshape America, right here," Baca said of developing policy to curb childhood obesity in his closing remarks. "I have to lose 20 pounds and I'm going to do it a little at a time."

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