The White House task force on childhood obesity has just released its report to the President entitled "Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation." This fits in well with Michelle's Obama's cover article in Newsweek recently.
This 120 page report looks at the current epidemic of childhood obesity. Some of the statistics are overwhelming. Currently one in every three child ages to 19 is overweight or obese. Obesity is estimated to cost 112,000 deaths per year in the United States. One third of all children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime. In addition, a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine has pointed out that for the first time the current generation of children may be on a course of having a shorter life span than their parents.
There has been a consistent increase in the growth of childhood obesity from 1971 until about the year 2000, at which time childhood obesity levels off.
This very thorough report looks at many aspects of the cause of this epidemic and is full of amazing information. A few of these are
1) Obese adults in current estimated $1429 more in medical expenses than their normal weight years.
2) Medical spending on adults that was attributed just to obesity was over $40 billion in 1998. But in 2008 this had increased to an estimated $147 billion.
3) During childhood excess weight costs an estimated $3 billion per year in direct medical costs.
4) At least $1.6 billion is spent annually on food advertising directed to children and adolescents.
5) 13% of the daily caloric intake for 12 to 19-year-olds now comes from sugar- sweetened beverages.
6) On average, children consumed only 64% of the recommended level of fruit and 46% of the recommended level of vegetables in 2003 to 2004.
7) A mother's preconception weight and weight gain during pregnancy are two of the most important prenatal determinants of childhood obesity. Another way to say this is overweight mothers give birth to overweight children.
8) Maternal smoking girly pregnancy is associated with a 500% greater risk of obesity at age 5.
9) Research shows that it is possible that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals during pregnancy play a role in the development of childhood obesity. Scientists have coined the term "obesogins" for chemicals that they believe may promote weight gain and obesity.
10) The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimated that in 2006 the food, beverage, and quick serve restaurant companies spent more than $1.6 billion to promote their products to young people.
The statistics in this article go on and on but it is clear that our entire country must change its direction in eating, exercise and focused in order for us to be first the obesity epidemic that we are living with.
The report focuses on five basic things that we can all do together to help this epidemic:
1) Create a healthy start on life for our children, from pregnancy through early childhood;
2) Empower parents and caregivers to make healthy choices for their families;
3) Serve healthier foods in schools;
4) Ensure access to healthy, affordable food;
5) Increase opportunities for physical activity.
I encourage you to read the whole article which can be gotten at this website.
Let me know what you think. Do you talk to your overweight friends about diet and exercise? What do you think can be done to improve this obesity epidemic?