As one of the most prominent figures in the medical community with his own Emmy-winning television show, Dr. Mehmet Oz has championed numerous social causes; but few are as important as his ongoing campaign against childhood obesity. Partnering with his wife, Lisa Oz, and numerous other celebrities, Dr. Oz established HealthCorps, a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate and empower children and teens about obesity and other health issues through school and community-based initiatives.
HealthCorps currently includes a network of 62 schools in thirteen states and the District of Columbia. These school programs include Living Labs, which engage children in classrooms, school cafeterias and clubs, as well as HealthCorps University, which trains youth leaders about health issues so they can help propagate important information to peers. Through this program, HealthCorps has impacted almost 146,500 students along with 293,000 family and friends. HealthCorps aspires to be involved in more than 100 schools in all 50 states by 2015.
In a recent interview with The Waiting Room Magazine, Dr. Oz and his wife, Lisa once again underscored their commitment to fighting the deadly scourge of childhood obesity. They emphasized that the often-ignored issue of child health affects not only their physical wellbeing, but also the ability of young adults to achieve as students and professionals. “The mission of HealthCorps is to empower students through education to take control of their bodies,” said Lisa Oz, “so that they can go out and change the world.”
In the past year, HealthCorps has allied with major organizations like the Hawn Foundation and the National Basketball Association to spread the message. In the near future, HealthCorps also hopes to find supporters in the National Football Association. Many of the athletes who share this concern for child health serve as highly visible role models and mentors.
Dr. Oz also emphasized the role that physicians must play in the war on childhood obesity. “Physicians have a huge responsibility to step outside of the ivory towers that they practice in and fulfill their obligations as professionals. We have a responsibility to protect our society. The kids are the future, they always will be. If they are obese, we know they will be as adults. We can’t afford that financially, but more importantly, these kids deserve to find health in their lives. We as teachers, because that’s what doctors are. We have an obligation to go out there and let people know that.”