Obesity leads to diabetes and many other medical problems, top health officials say.

David Satcher
Former surgeon general of the United States and director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute

The good news is that both children and adults, by improving their physical activity and good nutrition, can get to the point that they need no treatment for diabetes other than a healthy lifestyle. Especially when it comes to what we call Type 2 diabetes, it’s not a sentence for life. We’re all here today to try to reduce obesity and diabetes and the costs that come with them. The costs to our health-care system are staggering — breaking the backs of businesses, making our country less competitive.

Yvonne Maddox Deputy director, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Disparities associated with childhood obesity cannot be overlooked. We do see a twofold increase in childhood obesity, specifically, in African American girls. Some years ago, the National Council of Negro Women came to us and asked us to help them launch a campaign to address childhood obesity in African Americans and specifically in African American girls. We’ve launched a program that’s called Fit for Life. It’s very culturally competent and sensitive to the needs of the community. One of the things that’s critical is that we have to have a literate community in order to understand the issues associated with good labeling and reading labels.

Rear Adm. Susan Blumenthal, MD, MPA (ret.)

Former assistant surgeon general; clinical professor at Georgetown School of Medicine

Imagine that there was a killer at large in our communities. Well, this killer is obesity, and it threatens the health and well-being of one-third of our nation’s kids.

Why has there been a tripling in obesity rates over the past three decades? Because we’ve seen an increase in calorie consumption due to an increase in processed foods; the fact that there are larger portion sizes; more consumption of sugary foods; and the absence of fresh foods and vegetables. We also know that there’s a lack of physical activity, and most children are not meeting that 60 minutes of (exercise) time five days a week.