May 20, 2008
I am writing in response to your May 19 article about the problem of childhood obesity in America, "Inertia at the Top."
In addition to the problems seen now in the public schools regarding lack of physical education and poor nutritional options, obesity is a serious concern among college undergraduates. As a physical therapist member of the American Physical Therapy Association, I conducted research in 2005 that showed that among 300 undergrads at Washington University in St Louis 70 percent had gained an average of 9 pounds between their freshman and sophomore years, and most were still not meeting recommended guidelines for healthy eating and exercise behavior.
To help combat obesity in children of all ages, physical therapists develop fitness plans that promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. For those who are overweight or obese, physical therapists balance the progression of the exercise prescription with the need for joint protection and safety during exercise.
To say the least, the results of this study are cause for concern. Even our young people are no longer immune from the dire effects of obesity, which can include type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other formerly "adult" diseases.
Susan S Deusinger, PT, PhD, FAPTA
Professor and Director of the Program in Physical Therapy
Washington University School of Medicine