Childhood obesity: the uphill battle for children's health

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The rate of childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past thirty years. It has quadrupled for adolescents. “Childhood obesity is not a cosmetic issue or something the child will just grow out of. Obese children tend to become obese adults, and there are many medical issues associated with obesity. Children are now taking the same type of medications as their parents to manage blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol. This is frightening but true,” Dr. Rani Whitfield, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association said.

A rise in obesity-related illness

Increases in childhood obesity have led to increases in obesity-related health issues. A survey of 5 to 17 year olds revealed that around 70% of obese children and adolescents have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This condition can lead to risk of musculoskeletal diseases, diabetes and cancer.

Obese children become obese adults

While medical challenges are of concern for obese children, those concerns continue right on through adulthood. Not only does this stress the family, but economies as well. And increase in disease means an increase in medical expense.

Lifestyle changes created a sedentary, high calorie consuming generation

“The availability of liquid calories and empty calories, combined with a deluge of fast food and junk food advertisements, have changed the way children eat. The majority of children fail to meet the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity and spend huge amount of time sitting. The way we’ve structured our daily lives makes it hard for children to live healthily,” said Amanda Staiano, PhD, co-chair of the Public Affairs Committee at The Obesity Society. Children snack more, serving sizes have increased, total calorie intake has increased while junk food is easy to obtain.

More awareness of the problem needed for the uphill battle

“We are certainly making some progress,” noted Dr. Eliana Perrin, associate professor of pediatrics at North Carolina Children’s Hospital, “but given the abundance of marketing to children of unhealthy foods, the lack of easy ways to incorporate healthy activity into children’s usual days, and the simultaneous unfairness of obesity stigma, it’s an uphill battle.”

Source: Honor Whiteman/MedicalNewsToday


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