He starts the talk by explaining the differences in the development of fat cell size in those children who become obese and those who don’t. Is it genes or environment? Dr. Trevino believes it’s environment. We can affect environment and he has ideas on how to do that.
There are theories that state what a mother eats during pregnancy influences the tastes of the child. Dr. Trevino says a mother who eats broccoli and drinks water while pregnant will have a child who prefers broccoli and water. On the other hand, a mother who eats chips and drinks soda while pregnant will have a child who likes junk food.
The phase he points out between 4 years and 7 years is a time when many kids are discovering how much fun television is. This, he says, is a time when the fat cells are expanding and then contracting. The environmental cues – sitting around in front of TV, watching advertisements for fatty and sugary products – push a child toward a lifestyle that keeps the fat cells from contracting.
Dr. Trevino has a school curriculum called Bienestar/Neema Health Program that has been in Texas schools since 1997. Aimed at schoolchildren from kindergarten through eighth grade, the curriculum covers the home environments, food service (through the cafeteria at school), physical education, and health education.
The Bienestar program has decreased blood sugar and increased the physical activity of the children in the program compared to children not in the program. Other physical indicators of health also improved under the program.
The TEDx talk is about 16 minutes long and worth a listen.
Image by sanjoyg, used with Creative Commons permission.