A fifth of American kids projected to become obese

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A report released on September 13 called "Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?" states that if strict measures are not implemented, in just four years, over 20 percent of American children will be obese. The report called current measures aimed at tackling childhood obesity "fragmented and small-scale".

The report was released by the Institute of Medicine, but including an explicit disclaimer that 'Any opinions, findings, conclusions, are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization [Institute of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation] that provided support for the project.'

A McDonald 's patron in 2006. A recent report predicts that by 2010, over 20% of American children will be obese.

Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the organization that funded the report, said "if we do not reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity, millions of kids and our society will be robbed of a healthy and hopeful future". The percentage of children who are overweight or obese has been increasing worldwide in recent years. Food Consumer reports that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), childhood overweight and obesity is a "global pandemic".

According to an estimate based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 34 percent of American children were overweight in 2003-2004, compared to 28 percent in 1999-2000. In 2002, 16 percent of American children and teens were obese. In 2004, the rate was 17 percent. The rate is expected to rise to 20 percent, according to the report.

Childhood obesity increases risk of several chronic diseases, including diabetes mellitus type 2, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, heart disease, poor self-esteem, and a lower health-related quality of life. Type 2 diabetes is at an all-time high in American children. According to WHO, obesity also increases the risk of stroke and certain forms of cancer.

While there is no single cause of childhood obesity, experts cite sedentary lifestyle, labor-saving technology, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, calorie-dense fast foods, and deceptive advertising as some of the main causes. A recent report by International Obesity Task Force has said that junk food manufacturers target children, for example, through Internet advertising, chat rooms, text messages, and "advergames" on websites.

The article also mentions the greater prevalence of obesity among two minority populations, African-Americans and Hispanic/Latino, but does not consider in its analysis of the increase in obesity the increase of these populations as a proportion of the United States population.

African-Americans and Hispanic/Latinos have a higher rates of obesity than White Americans, while Asian-Americans have a relatively low rate of obesity. Despite only representing one third of the U.S. population, African-Americans and Hispanic/Latinos represent about one half of the population growth.

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