In a recent poll, almost 40% of adults rated childhood obesity as the number 1 health concern amongst youth.
If we haven’t hit the panic button yet, it’s time to do so.
Here are some sobering statistics about childhood obesity that really underscore the need to act.
- Obesity rates: Obesity rates among children over the past 30 years more than doubled among children ages 2 to 5, quadrupled among children ages 6 to 11, and more than tripled among adolescents ages 12 to 19.
- Costs: It costs an estimated $549,907.3 in health treatments for an obese 18-year-old to remain obese throughout adulthood. That’s a nice house (apartment where I live), or a REALLY freaking nice car.
- Fast foods and pop: It’s no coincidence that the burgeoning of children’s waistlines has gone up with fast food and soda consumption – increasing by nearly 300 percent between 1977 and 1996.
- TV watching: One quarter of all US children watch 4 or more hours of television each day, as do 43 percent of non-Hispanic blacks. TV watching is strongly correlated to weight.
- Fresh produce: A mere 21 % of young people eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Consider that nearly half of children’s vegetable consumption comes in the form of fried potatoes!
- Type 2 diabetes: Whereas in 1990 only 4% of newly diagnosed childhood diabetes was type 2, by 2001 the proportion was 45% in adolescents in areas with a large population of African-American, Mexican-American, or Native-American children. Also noteworthy, type 2 diabetes in youth is more common in girls than in boys, with one study showing that up to 80 percent of children who develop type 2 diabetes are female.
- Sleep problems: The incidence of snoring among obese children was 12.5%, more than two times higher than that of overweight children (5.8 percent), and three times higher than that of normal weight children (4.6 percent). Sleep issues can impact learning.
- Cardiovascular disease: In a population-based sample of 5 to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Menstrual problems: A recent study showed that girls as young as 7 were hitting puberty. Obesity may also contribute to the development of uterine fibroids, or other menstrual irregularities later in life.
- Premature death: Obesity, glucose intolerance, and hypertension in childhood were strongly associated with increased rates of premature death from these diseases in this study.
What do you think about these statistics? Surprising, or not surprising? What alarms you the most about the prevalence of childhood obesity?
Image credit: anjsand