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Sunday, 25 April 2010

Translate What The Experts Know To What People Do

Dan Glickman, a former Secretary of the USDA said at the 1998 Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) conference: Childhood Obesity, Causes and Prevention, " Our greatest challenge as policy makers and public health advocates remains to translate what the experts know in(to) what people do." That succinct, but packed statement had a profound affect on me. I think I based the graduate thesis that I wrote a couple years later, and the rest of my career goals, objectives, pursuits, and actions, on that statement. As a registered dietitian and clinical nutritionist with a foot in the door of public health epidemiology, especially re: obesity in the pediatric population, I KNOW that all the research, theories, recommendations, programs, publications, and even modifications to the environment don't mean a thing unless people UNDERSTAND what to do and how to change and then actually DO change. The best win-win scenario is one when people will WANT/crave health and will DEMAND healthy options/lifestyles, for themselves and their children, more so over the 'junk foods' and sedentary lifestyles. THEN, companies, industry, governments, communities, counties, nations, and the world will need to supply these demands.

I lived in Russia for a few years. Most Russians do not speak English and I had a rudimentary understanding of the language. Nevertheless, I was always impressed by how articulate, resourceful, and intelligent the Russian people were. Now, intuitively, I sensed all of this about the Russians, but, I truly would never had KNOWN the depths of the Russian intellect and 'soul' had it not been for the omnipresence of interpreters. Interpreters in Russia are held in very high regard and, indeed, are ALWAYS present at every important, and even, many mundane events. Life and successful exchange of business, commerce, and understanding at every level and in every sphere of society and living just can't happen without them. People 'do' what they 'do' there because of (and sometimes, in spite of) the translations of interpreters.
Thus, I see myself as an interpreter of nutrition and diet. I am passionate about the knowledge of nutrition and foods and seek out, daily, all the newest research, technologies, and information. But, it's not enough for me to know all of it, to practice it, or even for me and my colleagues to know it all, benefit from it, exchange ideas, and practice what we know. We need to decipher and communicate to others. We need to make the knowledge relevant and 'do-able' to people. We need to do whatever it takes to translate what we know to what people can, will, and WANT to do and do it with JOY and enthusiasm. Maybe, just maybe, THEN, an obesity-free world can become a reality. At this point, I can only re-print the excerpt from the poem by Miller Williams -- another inspiration for me, personally, as I strive to find ways to become the best 'interpreter' I can to continue to work hard to reverse the travesty of burgeoning childhood obesity:

".....But where are we going to be, and why, and who?
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,
to keep on going where we meant to go.
But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children...

All this in the hands of children, eyes
already set on a land we can never visit --
it isn't there yet---
but looking through their eyes, we can see
what our long gift to them may come to be.
If we can truly remember, they will not forget"

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