This summer I attended the Lillian Fountain Smith Conference for Nutrition
Educators at Colorado State University. William Troy Donahoo, MD, of the
University of Colorado Heath Sciences Center, spoke on the long term metabolic
and medical complications of obesity in adolescents. This months thought
bullets include some of the highlights I captured from Dr. Donahoos
- Accurate obesity standards for children are very difficult to establish
due to the growth patterns in this age group. A reference population of
children is critical. Most of the charts now in use are over 30 years old.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed BMI charts for
screening children and adolescents. The charts can be accessed at:
- Body Mass Index (BMI) charts capture approximately 65% of body fatness.
However, for some groups, this rate falls as low as 50%. One such group is
- Although BMI charts are easy to use and are currently widely used, they
must be interpreted carefully. When Arnold Schwarzenegger first started
making action movies, his BMI was 31. Clearly he was not "obese"
as defined by standard BMI charts.
- The percentage of body fat is only one consideration when assessing health
status. Placement of body fat is crucial. A good predictor of health
complications tied to obesity is when a high BMI is accompanied with a high
- Approximately 95% of individuals who lose weight gain it back. We can no
longer consider the failure to maintain weight loss as a
"self-failure" of an individual.
- During an interview, Monica Lewinsky stated she was often referred to as
the "fat chick." She stated society would not have tolerated such
reference to her race, ethnicity, or religion, but the reference as the
"fat chick" usually went forward without being changed by editors.
- Treatment of obesity in children and adolescents remains controversial.
Many individuals recommend weight maintenance while allowing growth to
occur. Others recommend monitored weight loss, including pharmaceutical
therapy, especially for severely obese adolescents. There is agreement on
increased physical activity being a major tool for preventing and treating
Anderson J, Kendall P, Pineda C, ed. 2000 Program Synopsis, Lillian Fountain
Smith Conference for Nutrition Educators. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado
State University, June 2000.
Personal notes of Betty Holmes, conference attendee.
Compiled by Betty Holmes,
Return to Thought Bullets--main page.
Return to home page.