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Childhood Obesity Advances in the U.S.

12/01/2017

According to a study on 42,000 children and adults, Dr. Zachary Ward of the Center for Health Decision Science at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston estimates that 57 percent of children aged 2 to 19 in 2016 will be obese by the time they reach 35 years of age.

It was determined that obesity in childhood is reflected in adult obesity with consequential health issues including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and renal complications.  Currently six percent of U.S. children are severely obese with a body-mass index of 35 or higher.  The study determined that Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks were more likely to be obese than white children and differences among races were present at two years of age.  The converse is also true in that children that are not obese during childhood have a lower probability of adult-onset of obesity.  Children with a low or normal BMI have less than a 50 percent chance of becoming obese by 35 years of age.

The authors of the article cited a 2015 study in Health Affairs concluding that placing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, setting nutrition standards for foods served in schools and eliminating tax deductions for advertising unhealthy food would be beneficial with respect to obesity.  There appears to be a lack of logic in these recommendations since two-year old obese children would not be at school and their diets would not be influenced by youth-centered advertising. 

Clearly the solution lies in comprehensive education directed at the demographics at risk, both ethnic and economic that have the highest prevalence of obesity.  The “nanny state” directive approach advanced by previous First Lady Michelle Obama and also by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, although well-intentioned was not especially beneficial.  EGG-NEWS did however report on success among lower income immigrant families in Amsterdam, the Netherlands involving a comprehensive program of education, modifying school meals and promoting exercise together with family counselling.

(SMS 1,970-17 December 1st 2017)