Using ‘Slow Medicine’ to Combat Childhood Obesity
According the Centers for Disease Control, the number of children and adolescents with chronic disease has quadrupled since the 1960s, and obesity is a large contributor. With most pediatricians practicing ‘fast food’ medicine— 10 minute appointments for treating only symptoms rather than considering the whole child— it’s not surprising that even a city as healthy as San Francisco has a childhood obesity rate of nearly 10%. While this rate falls well below the national average, it is still unsettling. However, less than 1% of GetzWell Pediatrics’ patients suffer from obesity and the chronic diseases linked to it.
Why is the rate of obesity and chronic illness in GetzWell Pediatrics patients so much lower? The answer is linked to the integrative and ‘slow medicine’ approach that we take. We go beyond standard practices and look deeply into the environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors that contribute to childhood obesity.
What is ‘Slow Medicine’?
The bedrock of the slow food movement is whole, locally grown and sustainable food with an awareness of its favorable impact on our food systems and the environment compared to mass produced, nutrient-deficient processed food. By analogy, ‘slow medicine’ rejects the high volume, ‘one-ill-one-pill’ model of care in which cookie cutter prescriptions are the only solutions offereds for complex problems. Slow medicine emphasizes longer appointments in order to provide customized treatment plans addressing the root causes of health issues rather than merely suppressing symptoms.
How Does ‘Slow Medicine’ Treat Obesity?
In our slow medicine pediatric practice, we know healthy childhoods set the foundation for long-term health and we want to start guiding parents before your baby is born.
Our prenatal appointments discuss ways to empower mothers and fathers to:
- Minimize environmental obesogens and endocrine-disrupting plastics.
- Eliminate pesticides and industrial chemicals that can disrupt your child’s metabolism by eating organic foods.
- Support gastrointestinal health by avoiding antibiotics, eating prebiotics, and taking probiotics, which in turn will support baby’s gut health.
- Decrease stress (and cortisol production) using mindfulness techniques.
- Prepare for vaginal birth which is baby’s first exposure to the “bugs of life.”
After birth, we continue supporting you and your child by having ample time at appointments to nurture trust and by continuing to guide, educate and make thoughtful decisions. We emphasize:
- Careful choice of antibiotics and only when necessary since antibiotics in childhood have been tied to risk of obesity. The majority of GetzWell’s kids have never taken antibiotics compared to 70% of two-year olds that see mainstream pediatricians.
- Introduction of whole organic foods to babies once they start solids.
- Elimination of screen time for the first 2 years and emphasis on playing outdoors to encourage an active lifestyle and also stimulate creativity and problem solving.
This summary only briefly touches on the guidance and care that we love providing to parents and their children. Visit us soon to experience firsthand how successful our slow medicine approach is.
Interested in how slow medicine can help your child? Schedule a Meet and Greet with us by calling our Church St. location at (415) 826-1701 or Union St. location at (415) 969-6670, or visit us online at getzwell.com.