A former U.S. surgeon general thinks three things are needed for people to be healthy.
Dr. David Satcher says those are individual support, community involvement and good public policy. He outlined those points during a talk at Purdue Tuesday night.
Satcher says schools can play a major part in fighting the childhood obesity epidemic.
“We now know that children who are physically active and eat breakfast learn better. We can even document what happens to the brain when children are physically active.”
He says most children who eat healthy and exercise regularly make that a life-long habit.
Satcher believes schools are the best way to improve the health of children living in poverty, because that situation can lead to malnutrition as well as obesity.
“Food insecurity means whatever you can get to eat, you eat it, and you eat as much as you can when you have it,” he says. “It’s sort of a complex formula that we’re struggling with here, but I don’t think any of us should rest at ease as long as any child in this country is hungry.”
Satcher says personal accountability is important, but government must play a part too, and he supports New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to curb consumption of large soda drinks. He thinks that and other types of preventive measures will lead to a stronger country.
He says promoting good health practices in communities and individuals would lead to a quality and affordable health care system.
“Even if it costs more, we would benefit in terms of our economy. We would benefit in terms of our security. But I’m convinced, in time, it will reduce the cost of health care. I think we’re beginning to see that.”
Satcher says group or community exercise also improve people’s mental and physical health, while strengthening neighborhoods.
He made the comments while at Purdue as part of the College of Health and Human Sciences 2013 Life Inspired events.
Satcher served as surgeon general from 1998 to 2002. He teaches at Morehouse School of Medicine and is director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the college.