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Christopher Magryta: Policy changes to dramatically alter health landscape, combat obesity

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the newsletter of Dr. Christopher Magryta, who works at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. View more from Magryta at salisburypediatrics.com/patient-education/dr-magryta-s-newsletter.

By Christopher Magryta

This pandemic has shined the brightest spotlight on our greatest risk as a society: poverty and obesity. We must make tackling these two issues the focus of the next decade.

I believe that a few things could dramatically alter the health landscape of America.

1. Stop federal subsidies for grains that flood our poor communities with processed foods. We are literally subsidizing the cost of junk food that is hurting our children. Making junk food cheap and accessible is a major problem with inner city poverty linked obesity. Let us instead subsidize fresh fruits and vegetables that are life sustaining. Imagine if blueberries were cheaper than doughnuts!

2. Completely change all school food programs to have kitchens and chefs in every school. Provide only real, wholesome food that meets real nutritional guidelines as opposed to the current school lunch programs sanctioned by the American Dietetic Association. The current ADA approval of the food being served in schools is akin to the American Academy of Pediatrics sanctioning diffuse use of antibiotics for viral infections. In the short run, there is no apparent harm. Over time, it causes an absolute mess.

3. We need to have comprehensive nutrition education for all children in school. I envision a course like the health class of yesteryear but split up over the entire 13-year primary school cycle.

4. We need to work tirelessly to place government-subsidized, fresh food distribution markets in poor, inner-city dwellings that take food stamps or other voucher programs. These programs should universally reject any unhealthy food from cost coverage. If an American citizen wants to drink soda, smoke cigarettes, eat doughnuts, then it is on their personal dime. We as a society should never bankroll unhealthy choices. It makes zero sense to me for us to pay for poor-quality foods and then pay for the drugs for the diseases that these foods are causing.

5. We need to focus on obesogenic chemicals that are found throughout society. Flouronated industrial chemicals like PFAS are one major source of risk and can be found in stain-proofing treatments for carpets and furniture, in food packaging materials, and even in cosmetics and personal care products. Bisphenol products are found in plastics and are notorious obesogens. Learn how to avoid these chemicals.

6. A comprehensive nationwide initiative to increase safe green spaces for everyone to enjoy for exercise and activity. Movement is another key to health.

Clean air, clean water and clean food. It is that simple.

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