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Obesity is becoming an increasingly serious and increasingly common problem for American children. So researchers are trying to come up with a new approach to treating it, applying the lessons learned in treating childhood cancer.
More than 15 percent of American children are overweight or obese. It puts them at risk of a lifetime of health problems, from premature heart disease to high blood pressure and diabetes.
Treating it is more than just a matter of telling children to eat less and exercise more. There are complicated physiological, psychological, and social forces at work.
That's why a recent conference of childhood obesity experts in San Francisco called for a comprehensive approach to this complex problem.
Instead of different researchers, different hospitals, working in isolation, they called on everyone to share their knowledge and expertise.
Dr. Arthur Ablin/ Childhood Cancer Expert: "IF WE POOL THE RESOURCES THAT WE HAVE WE'LL DO BETTER THAN IF WE JUST BECOME VERY ISOLATED AND IGNORE WHAT OUR COLLEAGUES HAVE TO TEACH US."
The multi-disciplinary approach has produced amazing results in childhood cancer. In 1960, about 25 percent of children with cancer survived. Today three times that number survive.
So by bringing that same approach to obesity, it's hoped we will be able to enjoy equal success.
Barbara Moscicki/ UCSF Children's Hospital: "THE KEY IS GOING TO BE A MULTI-DISCIPLINARY APPROACH, BECAUSE IT HAS TO DO WITH OUR ENVIRONMENT, IT HAS TO DO WITH SOCIETAL RULES AND REGULATIONS, IT HAS TO DO WITH SOME GENOTYPING EXPRESSION, AND IT HAS TO DO WITH THE FAMILY ENVIRONMENT. BY DEFINITION THAT'S MULTI-DISCIPLINARY."
By working together, sharing their knowledge, it's hoped they can come up with effective strategies much faster than by working alone.