By Dr. Anthony Policastro

We know that there are certain ways that people in a society act. Some of them are healthy, some of them are not.

For example, in the period from 1976 to 1980 seven percent of children ages 6-11 years were obese. The number was five percent for adolescents between the ages of 12-19 years.

From 2015 to 2016 those numbers had changed. For the 6-11 year age group the incidence of obesity was 18.4 percent. For adolescents in the 12-19 year age group the incidence of obesity was 20.6 percent. 

The incidence of type 2 diabetes (the type associated with obesity) also rose significantly in that population. 

The bottom line is that as a society we have done things that have resulted in more of our children being obese.

In 1988 the Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health was published. It provided general guidance to prevent obesity.

One of those was to eat a variety of foods. That means that going to Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks or McDonald’s for the same breakfast every morning is limiting variety.

A second recommendation was to balance the food you eat with physical activity. The more time in front of a screen, the less food you should eat. Of interest is the finding that increasing physical activity does more for long term health than just losing weight does.

A third recommendation was to choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables and fruits. Think about how many of those are available at fast food locations. French fries should not be your only vegetable. There should be fresh fruit in every household. Actually, fruit is the best thing to snack on. Fruit juice should be limited because of all the sugar it contains.

A fourth recommendation was to choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. That means that individuals should have a good idea of what the fat content is in the food they are eating.

A fifth recommendation was to choose a diet moderate in sugars. Most snack foods are full of sugar. That’s why they should be replaced with fruit. Soda is pretty much just needless sugar. No child should have multiple servings of soda on a daily basis.

The last recommendation was to choose a diet moderate in salt and sodium. There is no logical reason to add table salt to almost every food that we eat. Some foods might do better with salt. However, even then we should just choose enough to improve taste rather than pouring it on.

None of these recommendations require a strict diet. They are all common sense. Of course if we had been doing that since 1988 when they were published, we would not have so many obese children now.

Obesity was one of the risk factors for mortality for COVID-19 infections. We would likely have had fewer COVID-19 deaths with a less overweight population.

Our society has developed eating habits that are harmful. Our obese children will become obese adults. It is as much an issue with our societal norms as it is with individual diets.

COVID update- The total number of cases in Sussex County has dropped from 153.7 per 100,000 people to 147.29 per 100,000 people.

The number of inpatient beds with COVID patients is at 5.6 percent, just like it previously was. That puts us in the low risk range (less than 10 percent). New COVID admissions has dropped from 13.2 per 100,000 people to 12.7 per 100,000 people. That keeps us in the medium risk zone (between 10 and 19.9 admissions per 100,000 people).

That means that for this week Sussex County has stayed in the medium risk category because of inpatient admissions for COVID-19.

As far as total number of cases go, Sussex County has gone from 312 last week to 340 this week. That is essentially no change.

Nationally, the numbers were 683,000 last week. This week they sit at 790,000 this week. So they have moved up somewhat.