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“For the past 10 years, I have noticed a connection between childhood obesity, eating disorders, and the increasing complications of both in my clinical work as well as in my research. As part of my mission to shed light on these problems, particularly as they relate to US children, I find it important to provide both by readers and clients with relevant informative articles. You can view all of my Childhood Obesity Articles here. Also, be sure to read my Nutrition, Fitness, and Health articles here.”
The average child spends almost 53 hours/week (7 hours 38 min/day) watching television, playing video games, using computers and/or cell phones. Add another 1 hour 25 minutes/week if you include texting. Clearly our children need more physical activity. However, parents who come home from work exhausted, have a difficult time being good role models. Likewise it is a challenge for overworked parents to ensure that their children are less sedentary and more active. Schools are generally not in a position to help. In 2011 the median Physical Education (PE) budget in elementary schools in the U.S. was $460/year. Many PE programs are optional, depending upon the grade. Some PE classes can even be taken online.
The implications of the epidemic of childhood obesity are staggering when one considers that obesity leads to many of the most debilitating and costly medical problems of our time. It is not uncommon today for a child to leave the pediatrician’s office with a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, a heart condition or joint deterioration. These diseases, which have historically been associated with middle age, are now showing up in younger and younger children. At the current rate of childhood obesity, it is estimated that the U.S. will have $344 billion in medical-related expenses driven by obesity and it’s complications by the year 2018 or 21% of medical costs. More importantly, today’s children will be the first generation since the Great Depression, projected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
“While the medical costs and complications of childhood obesity are frightening, it could get worse. We don’t really know the extent to which these problems will impact the quality of life of individuals who suffer from chronic diseases so early in life, as this is an entirely new phenomenon. We know that depression, reduced earning power, infertility and isolation are common among adults who are obese. But what about individuals who have been obese since they were 3 or 4 and who suffer from Type II Diabetes when they are 10 or 11? What are the developmental issues at stake?” J. Renae Norton, 2012
And then there are the psychological costs. In a recent national survey of overweight sixth graders, 24 percent of the boys and 30 percent of the girls experienced daily teasing, bullying or rejection because of their size. The number doubles for overweight high school students with 58 percent of boys and 63 percent of girls experiencing daily teasing, bullying or rejection because of their size. The psycho-social conditions of overweight children and teens are depression, anxiety, social isolation and marginalization and low self-esteem. Obese children, as well as children who believe that they are overweight, are also at higher risk for suicide.
“The sad thing is that the problems plaguing America’s children are very preventable for parents in the know. Unfortunately, and through no fault of their own, most parents are not in the know, as the information they need is difficult to find and even more difficult to put into practice.” J. Renae Norton, 2012
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Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.
© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible.
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Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index, United States 1960-2002
Childhood Obesity in the United States
Fast Food Facts