It's Like Throwing Water on a Fire

Blog post by regularly guest blogger, Jamie Sparks, Director of Coordinated School Health at the Kentucky Department of Education. Twitter handle: @JamieSparksCSH

I want to start with an analogy that I see year after year in government. The analogy starts with a fire, with the obvious goal being to extinguish it or at least reduce it in size.  The apparent logical solution is to use water, however, increasing the volume of water to put the fire out many times has little effect. It may put out the fire, but the damage is done. At times, the conclusion is that there is not enough water to put the fire out, and rather the solution should be on reducing the fuel that is the source of the fire. In this illustration, the fire represents disease, specifically that associated with obesity. Our government systems annually and increasingly try to fund more and more "water" to treat the many obesity related health problems (I.e. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, respiratory illness). The "water" represents funding for treatments and screenings. It is a band-aid approach.

Just as with a wildfire, it is never quite possible to obtain enough water to fix the issue. The strategy is always about controlling the environment to reduce the fuel for the fire. This has to be where we apply our strategies for obesity prevention and thus ultimately reducing health care costs for everyone! To change the landscape for obesity prevention, there has to be an investment and prioritization in changing environments schools, communities and worksites.  This means that the primary agent of change for our society has to start with school requirements for physical education. Investment for instructional priority in quality physical education programs will contribute to increasing physical literacy and ultimately increased physical activity. The recommendation from the Institute of Medicine says it this way, "strengthen schools as the heart of health", both our PHYSICAL health and our FISCAL health as a nation depends on this!

Tune in TONIGHT! Feb 12, 9pm EST for Jamie's Southern District AAHPERD PE Twitter Chat! Follow #SDpechat