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Jay Gordon, MD Headshot

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Ludacris is telling Chicago teenagers with asthma to make sure they use their inhalers before they exercise.

The NIH has funded a study at Rush University Medical School giving African-American teens MP3 players filled music, videos and games with messages from rap artists and other celebrities talking about the need to quit smoking, use inhalers and take care of themselves to prevent asthma attacks.

The reason for targeting these kids is the nearly 25% incidence of asthma in this group. The other component of this study is to attempt to remove the stigma of using asthma medications:

"A huge factor in asthma is denial. Often adolescents don't want to admit they have asthma because they see it as a weakness, especially in the African-American and Hispanic communities," said Dr. Giselle Mosnaim, an allergy and immunology specialist at Rush University Medical Center.

This might work. This news story got me thinking about some of the other “denial” issues in medical care.

Denial might be the biggest obstacle to treating many illnesses and conditions affecting children and families. Nearly every time I mention to parents that the best way to treat obesity and overweight is to change diet, they deny that their child eats any differently than anyone else.

Simple answers like throw away your mayonnaise, eat less cheese, snack on fruit instead of potato chips, get healthier breakfast cereals and realize that bacon is not real food but instead is just congealed grease, are often met with either glazed eyes or, occasionally, anger. I'm accused of being unrealistic. Sometimes, I'm tempted to ask the parents (or the teens) for a better answer. (That “bacon” link takes you to wonderful story about Burger King's new Enormous Omelet Sandwich that gives kids and others enough fat and calories to nearly close an artery or two. 47 grams and 730 calories to be exact.)

The causes of increased asthma, obesity and adult type (Type 2 diabetes) diabetes in ten-year-olds are not simply issues of genetics or bad luck: parents who smoke can actually create asthma in their children, serving pizza, macaroni and cheese and French fries can create obesity. Adult onset diabetes used to be your grandfather's problem but massive amounts of soda and high calorie food have changed that: Type 2 diabetes (previously known as adult onset diabetes or AODM) now accounts for over one third of newly diagnosed cases in children and teens.

I am pleased to begin my relationship with the Huffington Post by announcing that we are often making our children sick with the food we feed them. We can do better than this.