Stanford hosts contest to fight obesity

February 26, 2008 7:08:53 AM PST
When patients need to lose weight doctors usually have two key pieces of advice: eat less and exercise more.

But is there another way -- especially when it comes to overweight children? Participants in contest this week at Stanford think so.

People gathered at Stanford University's Clark Center Auditorium were told to byob. Bring your own brain. The center for Healthy Weight at Lucille Packard Hospital sponsored today's conference on childhood obesity and they hope gathering all this brain power will lead to an answer.

"To get some of the bright mind on campus to come together to come up with some innovative ideas that attack obesity from a variety of areas," said Dr. Craig Albanese from Stanford University School of Medicine.

This audience is filled with doctoral students, nutritionists, physicians, bio chemical engineers and entrepreneurs in the bio tech industry. They're all being challenged to fight the costly epidemic in the U.S.

"Between about $90 to $125 billion dollars is being spent just on obesity," said Stanford professor Dr. Robinson.

Monday's workshop is part of Stanford University's entrepreneur week. This group was shown surgical ways to combat obesity as well as nutritional foods which could prevent the disease. But Stanford professor of pediatrics Thomas Robinson says telling people to eat better and exercise more just doesn't work.

"Asking people or trying to convince them doesn't work. Giving them knowledge doesn't work," said Dr. Robinson.

After a panel presentation, the audience of more than 150 people was split up into workgroups who will try through brainstorming to find a way to fight obesity and morbid obesity in children.

Morbid obesity is described as being 100 pounds over ideal weight.

"Motivating children at a young age to change their behaviors," said participant Chris Heid.

"Being an exercise physiologist I'm biased to think that activity would be a solution," said participant Sandra Mandic.

Stanford researchers say there are approximately 12 million morbidly obese children in the U.S.

They add that morbid obesity will become a bigger health problem than heart disease in the next five years. A prize goes to the group with the best plan to fight obesity