Acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams discussed the importance of prevention and education on childhood obesity at Howard Hospital.

She presented the room of primarily health care educators, professionals and student with statistics and information on the epidemic. About 13.9 percent of high school aged students reported obese in 2015. Of children ages 10 to 17, 31.3 percent were reported obese in 2012. This data has tripled since the 1970s.

Statistics also show obesity among African-Americans and Latinos to be the highest resulting from higher poverty rates, lower food choices and low physical activity.

Obesity increases likelihood of diseases such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases , sleep apnea, asthma and bone/joint problems.

“There is no one size fits all solution to obesity,” Adams said.

Though she presents options for prevention such as creating meal plans, eating healthier and engaging in physical activity at home, though schools are another place where healthcare is critical.

“Because school breakfast and lunches are often the only meals some students in poor communities have throughout the day,” said Adams. “It is important to look at schools as tools and partner in developing clinical and preventative resources.”

However, attention to health in school systems is in danger. School systems allot shorter time periods for physical activity. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue has also stated intentions to rollback on school lunch standards implemented by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Joseph Wright, department of pediatrics and child health chair and coordinator of the lecture series, said, “The thing about public health is it’s a marathon, not a sprint … The jury is still out about the long-term effects of original ObamaCare interventions.”

However, Wright said “it’s our job as citizens is to lobby our representatives and put a stop to certain policies.”

Adams also highlighted the important role which healthcare professionals play in prevention of obesity.

“Healthcare providers play a significant role in prevention because you have the knowledge. You can impact someone for the rest of their lives,” said Adams. “Prevention is key. Healthier children become healthier adults. This has to be a multi-sect collaboration.”

Adams said her department is working on  new research which will aid security and prevention of childhood obesity.

“We do know that prevention works and it needs to be funded,” Adams said.

Find additional research on childhood obesity.