Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Could new BMI message help in fight against childhood obesity?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Sep 8, 2014 2:20 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, September 9, 2014:

overweight bou watches TV and eats 300 x 170.jpg

Childhood obesity may be one of the most challenging health risks we face.

Even with more attention over the last decade, the statistics haven't budged.  About a third of American kids are considered overweight or obese.

Children and adults who are overweight and considered obese are more susceptible to illnesses or conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and high blood pressure.

Since children spend so much time in school, schools have taken a role in the battle against obesity.  For example, school cafeteria menus have changed to add healthier choices to students.

Another strategy is to assess a child's body mass index (BMI) and pass that information on to parents.

Normally a letter informs parents about their child's BMI.   Some question its effectiveness. 

A new letter has been developed that reportedly has shown more success in getting parents to act.

On Tuesday's Smart Talk, we'll discuss childhood obesity, BMI, and the new BMI letter.

Appearing on the program are Donna Kephart, Executive Director of Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center, Dr. Jen Kraschnewski, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Public Health Sciences/Medical Director of Research, Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center, Yvonne Cook, President of the Highmark Foundation and Lori Good, an RN Wellness Educator at Lancaster General Health.


Dr. Jen Kraschnewski, Lori Good, Donna Kephart

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  • John H. img 2014-09-09 08:06

    One thing that would help fight this is if parents start making kids do daily chores. From my experiences it seems that making children do work has become a "bad thing". Plus, I've seen parents that do everything for their kids, ie, getting them something to drink. That's OK when they're small, but not when they're teenages.

    • garrie keyman img 2014-09-09 09:01

      John, I agree with both your points. Chores are good discipline for kids and do ensure some physical activity. They allow children to feel like contributing members of a family unit and if given an allowance for chores, help kids develop a sense of financial value, that we must earn what we have and that it will not just be handed to us. And yes, some parents do keep doing things for children far longer than the age of the child ought to warrant.

    • Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center img 2014-09-09 12:03

      Some of the most sustainable forms of physical activity are ones that fit into what we do or would like to do each and every day. Great thought, John. Getting children up and active for at least 60 minutes a day is recommended and can be broken up into small tasks -- like doing chores.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-09-09 08:43

    Amy emails:

    Re: your show this morning, I thought flavored milk was banned in elementary schools? There's so much sugar in flavored milk and little children do not need more sugar for breakfast and lunch. Like the guest said, If you only offer them plain milk, they will drink it. Thanks.

    • garrie keyman img 2014-09-09 09:15

      Amy, you are right. Kids certainly need no more sugar for breakfast and lunch. So much sugar is already contained in what passes these days for a meal, that adding it to staples like milk is almost obscene. But it is all about the money, not health and not sense. What the dairy industry does to milk by adulterating it reminds me of the tobacco industry, how ir flavors cigarettes in candy flavors and then tries to say it is not courting young people to become smokers. The truth is that as long as people keep buying sugar laden products, companies will keep producing them. Buy more organic, local, fresh produce, and less pre-packaged food stuffs, and more and more companies will want a part of that market share. People vote by how they spend their cash.

    • Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center img 2014-09-09 12:55

      Hi Amy:
      Flavored milk is actually not banned in schools. However, with the recent nutrition standards being released, schools participating in the national school lunch or national school breakfast programs are required to serve nonfat or low-fat (1%) unflavored milk, and nonfat flavored milk. They also put a maximum serving size requirement on these items -- 8 fluid ounces in elementary school and 12 ounces for middle and high school.
      In addition, the standards also require that students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week; increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods; limit calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; increase the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.

  • garrie keyman img 2014-09-09 08:45

    Another issue, a societal one, is the vanity sizing that has taken place in the fashion industry. I can get into a size six yet am exactly the same size I was years ago when I wore an eight, and before that, a twelve. The fashion industry helps people perceive that they are not overweight by changing their labels.

    • garrie keyman img 2014-09-09 09:26

      One of your guests was rather dismissive of my comment. She needs to do a little research on the topic. Information is a mouse click away, if she is among those of the buying public who failed to notice this trend on her own. Vanity sizing perpetuates people's denial that they have, in fact, gained weight. She said herself that she does not like to get on a scale. Many people feel the same way. Instead of getting on a scale and seeing they have, in fact, gained pounds, they will go by clothing sizes. I have known people to observe, "I can still fit in a (insert size here), just like twenty years ago." But they do not realize that same size tag now represents several inches more around their waist line.

      • Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center img 2014-09-09 13:07

        Hi Garrie:
        Unfortunately, this is a marketing technique that clothing retailers use to increase profits. They are selling a feeling rather than a size. The same could be said for food. If you haven't had the opportunity, check out the HBO special entitled: The Weight of the Nation. There is a great page on their website that presents evidence-based facts on food marketing to children.

      • Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center img 2014-09-09 13:35

        Hello Chris:
        I believe Lori talked about the Shapedown program at LGH -- contact (717) 544-0600. Penn State Hershey Medical Center also provides a Fit, Trim, Slim program for adults -- contact (717) 531-1552.

  • garrie keyman img 2014-09-09 08:48

    A second daughter,s school "makes them" select a fruit each lunch, yet counts things like sugary grape juice as a "fruit." Oy!

  • Chris G img 2014-09-09 09:08

    I came into the program late, but one of your speakers mentioned a ten week class that she offers families. Could you post the info for that class? Than you! Great topic.

  • HWMC img 2014-09-09 13:14

    Lancaster General Health offers the Shapedown program for families. It focuses on three areas of wellness; exercise, nutrition, and emotional eating. A parent/adult must attend with the child and the focus is on the entire family making healthy changes, not just the child enrolled in the program. The focus of the class is health, not weight. Topics covered included sugary beverages, importance of breakfast, portion control, eating out, self-esteem, bullying, and emotinal eating. 30-45 minutes of exercise is included in each session.
    The fall class begins Oct. 1st. Call (717)544-0600 for more information.

  • Mara img 2014-09-18 06:42

    HELLO! I was jolted while listening to this the other night to hear one of your guests assert that one gram of sugar equals 4 teaspoons of sugar. Very upsetting news. I checked this today, and the information is wrong. 4 GRAMS OF SUGAR EQUALS ONE TEASPOON. Big diff!

    • Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center img 2014-09-23 09:16

      Hello Mara:
      Thank you for your comment. To clarify, every 3-4 grams of sugar on the nutrition facts label is equal to one packet of sugar. That said, a 20 oz bottle of coke has 65 grams of sugar, which equals approximately 16 - 21 packets of sugar. To visualize this, your family could pour 20 oz of water in a glass and add 20 packets of sugar to it.

  • HWMC img 2014-10-27 12:59

    Mara- Please pardon my mistake about sugar grams (radio nerves!!). That said, 1 Teaspoon of sugar = 4 Grams of sugar
    Unfortunately, sugary drink consumption is very high with the adolescent population and is contributing to issues with their weight and health.

    Be Well!
    Lori M. Good, RN