Someday we will cure cancer. Someday we will turn off autoimmune diseases. Someday we will have joint replacements that don’t wear out. But will we be able to reverse the terrible increase in childhood obesity?
The fact is, a scary number of our children will predecease us because they are overweight, have high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart trouble. You will begin hearing more and more of children having a heart attack or stroke. How can this be?
The truth is, one in three of our U.S. kids are overweight and, in some ethnic groups, this statistic is much higher--especially among Hispanics and African-Americans. Many kids eat fast food every day. They eat junk food and they are not active. Too often this behavior is modeled by their parents.
Then there is the food industry trying to make a buck by giving us what we want. Yes, there are food labels, but many people don’t read them.
If you want to see the problem, find a seat near the check stand at a Wal-Mart, a crossroads of America today. You will be bowled over by the number of customers shopping who are overweight. Their kids will be with them and besides sharing facial features they will often share body shape too. This is our future and it is not pretty.
Many experts, including pediatricians, are very worried. However, there are families striving to make a change. Ashley, a 15-year old, completed a 16-session program with her mom at Kaiser to turn things around. Ashley weighed 147 lbs at 5′1″. Her mom is the same height and weighed almost 200 lbs. Anthony, Ashley’s father, working with mom, banned junk food from the house. They are exercising, making smarter eating choices, losing weight, and making a new beginning for life.
This is the cure. And all of us adults getting our act together is part of prevention. We also need good food choices in schools and exercise requirements. We need a cultural shift or else the bombshell that will kill our future economy will be an overweight population, lower productivity and much higher health care costs.