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Childhood obesity epidemic, some stunning statistics and a local program that can help

FIrst Lady Michelle Obama recently announced that finding solutions to the epidemic of childhood obesity in America will be her legacy to America. According to the Centers for Disease control the number of children aged 6-19 years old who are overweight or obese has  tripled since 1980 and currently represents 9 million children  (16%). For preschool children aged 2-5 years the number has almost doubled.

This growing rate of childhood obesity has led to some stunning statistics:

  • Obesity-associated annual hospital costs for children and youth more than tripled over two decades, rising from $35 million in 1979-1981 to $127 million in 1997-1999. ("Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, 2005," Institute of Medicine.)
  • In a population-based sample, approximately 60 percent of obese children aged 5 to 10 years had at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor, such as elevated total cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin or blood pressure, and 25 percent had two or more risk factors. ("Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, 2005," Institute of Medicine.)
  • For children born in the United States in 2000, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives is estimated to be about 30 percent for boys and 40 percent for girls. ("Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, 2005," Institute of Medicine.)
  • Childhood Obesity Alone May Increase Risk of Later Cardiovascular Disease, according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) obesity as early as 7 years of age may raise a child's risk of future heart disease and stroke, even in the absence of other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure
  • In case reports limited to the 1990s, Type 2 diabetes accounted for 8 to 45 percent of all new pediatric cases of diabetes, in contrast with fewer than 4 percent before the 1990s. ("Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, 2005," Institute of Medicine.
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Unless we educate our children and their parents on proper nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle choices, empower them to make changes, and offer better quality food in our schools, we will see in the near future an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in young adults, a rising rate of coronary heart disease in young adults, and more....

If the obesity epidemic continues this way, our children may be the first American generation with shorter life spans than their parents.

Westport Wellness and Eat for a Better Life, both based in Westport, CT have teamed up to offer workshops for families and children to empower them to better understand healthy diet , exercise, and nutrition and how to incorporate them into their busy lives. They also teach Dr. Katz's Nutrition Detectives in schools, churches, and other community settings. For further information contact for further information.