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Old 03-06-2006, 12:45 PM   #1
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Study: Childhood Obesity Has Become A Global Epidemic

Quote:
Stark warning on childhood obesity problem

By Danica Kirka, Associated Press
March 5, 2006


LONDON --The number of overweight children worldwide will increase significantly by the end of the decade, and scientists expect profound impacts on everything from public health care to economies, a study published Monday said. "We have truly a global epidemic which appears to be affecting most countries in the world," said Dr. Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force and author of an editorial in the journal warning of the trend.

Nearly half of the children in North and South America will be overweight by 2010, up from what recent studies say is about one-third, according to a report published by the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity. In the European Union, about 38 percent of all children will be overweight if present trends continue -- up from about 25 percent in recent surveys, the study said. The percentages of overweight children also are expected to increase significantly in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Egypt have rates comparable to fully industrialized nations, James said. One in five children in China will be overweight by 2010.

"They're being bombarded like they are in the West to eat all the wrong foods. The Western world's food industries without even realizing it have precipitated an epidemic with enormous health consequences," he said. James added that living in isolated areas was no longer a safeguard to securing quality of life or traditional eating habits. He said children are "being exposed to the world's marketing might," arguing that governments should step in. "There needs to be a ban on all forms of marketing, not just telvision adverts."

Researchers concluded that the prevalence of childhood obesity increased in almost all the countries for which data were available, a trend fueled by more sedentary lives and the increasing availability of junk food, among other factors. The problem of obesity in schools is described by the US surgeon general as "every bit as threatening to us as is the terrorist threat we face today".

The accretion of adipose tissue on developing bodies is already having a damaging effect on their health. More than one million children in Europe are estimated to have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, putting them at risk of heart disease, and 1.4 million may have early stages of liver disorder, the association says. Overeating has resulted in 20,000 children suffering from so called "adult onset" or type-2 diabetes, not previously seen in children, while more than 400,000 have impaired glucose tolerance, a pre-diabetic stage which puts them at sharply increased risk of the condition.

Tim Lobstein, co-ordinator of research on child obesity for the task force, said: "The obesity estimates are very cautious but extremely worrying. When we looked at the figures it was astonishing that nearly half of children in both North and South America could be overweight in just four years' time. In Europe we are seeing substantial increases with overweight numbers at 38 per cent - up 60 per cent on the level that we saw throughout the 1990s. It reinforces the need for immediate action to stop this runaway trend. We can only do this if we seriously ... cut down the consumption of empty extra calories in high fat and high sugar food products, and do much more to improve children's opportunities to be active."

The public health consequences of the trend alarm experts, said Dr. Phillip Thomas, a surgeon unconnected to the study who works extensively with obese patients in the northwest England city of Manchester. Because obese children tend to carry the problem into adulthood, Thomas and other doctors say they will tend to be sicker as they get older, suffering from heart disease, stroke and other ailments stemming from their weight. "This is going to be the first generation that's going to have a lower life expectancy than their parents," Thomas said. "It's like the plague is in town and no one is interested."

Another doctor who examined the journal report was Dr. Brian McCrindle, a childhood obesity expert and professor of pediatrics with a pediatric hospital in Toronto. He warned that the looming problem must be addressed. "The wave of heart disease and stroke could totally swamp the public health care system," he said. He warned that lawmakers had to take a broader view of the looming problem -- and consider doing things such as banning trans fats and legislating against direct advertising of junk food toward children. "It's not going to be enough any more just to say to the consumer 'You have to change your behavior,'" he said.
Is this purely a problem for parents to address? Or should schools and policymakers also be getting involved in recognition of the potential consequences for public health, as some of these doctors suggest? What sorts of measures should such institutions take? People complain in here a lot about the impact of violence on TV on their kids--what about the impacts in terms of food advertising and disinclination to pursue physical activity instead?
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Old 03-06-2006, 01:30 PM   #2
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This is too serious to just leave it up to parents. They've clearly abdicated some of their responsibility. I admit that I had no idea this was a global thing, I thought it was mainly a First World issue. Apparently junk food has a global market. I don't have any clear-cut ideas about what to do about this, but this is not good.
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Old 03-06-2006, 04:22 PM   #3
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In my community, I can see lifestyle changes, even from the time I was in elementary school, and I'm only 21. I walked to school and back starting at age 4 (walked to an older girl's house and then followed her to school). When we moved when I was 11, we stayed at our old school and then had to walk 14 blocks from the bus stop, often through snow 2 feet deep. We never owned any computer or console games and TV wasn't even an issue because we were raised to prefer to be outside. We also had paper routes to do each afternoon and early morning over the weekends.

Now, kids get driven to school and back and when they get home, the like to veg for hours in front of the TV or computers. The kids I nannied for recently had a membership to a local pool and I'd have to force them to get off their asses and go outside. If we'd had that as kids, you would've had to force us to come in!

I know the diet issue is huge, but you can't ignore the other half - kids just aren't as active, and they're not being encouraged or forced to be active like we used to be.
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Old 03-06-2006, 04:36 PM   #4
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I concur, it seems all children do these days is play video games and watch TV. All the advertisements on TV are not helping either. They advertise allot of junk food and more products to keep the children in front of the TV. I think that parents should take some responsibility for this and get there children out of the house and introduce them to a more active healthy lifestyle. The advertising companies should follow suit and start marketing products that promote good health. I took my dad to the buffet last night and it disturbed me to see this child no older than twelve who was already severely over weight.
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Old 03-06-2006, 05:32 PM   #5
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I know that from elementary school up through high school, the food offered at public schools is really bad for you. There's always a "healthy" option but it's usually one lonely soggy PB&J in the corner. I do believe you have to be responsible for your own health (or your child's), but when kids end up eating nachoes and hot dogs and cookies for lunch every single day starting age 5, you can't completely say it's their own fault.

When I was a younger kid I loved playing kickball and tag, my younger brother & his friends mostly play video games and watch cartoons. (Although honestly I would be sitting at the computer half the time these days if I didn't have an organized sport to force me to get off my lazy ass.)

I don't think banning advertisments is really the answer..I think it's a combination of parental responsibility and public schools actually offering healthy choices for young kids. (you can't have "jump rope for heart" once a year and then fail to offer anything not deep-fried in grease.) Of course that's more expensive blahblah, so basically we're fucked.
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Old 03-06-2006, 06:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by VertigoGal
I know that from elementary school up through high school, the food offered at public schools is really bad for you. There's always a "healthy" option but it's usually one lonely soggy PB&J in the corner. I do believe you have to be responsible for your own health (or your child's), but when kids end up eating nachoes and hot dogs and cookies for lunch every single day starting age 5, you can't completely say it's their own fault.
.


this is absolutely true.

school food is crap, because it's cheap (and ketchup is a vegetable). i remember talking to a friend of mine who was Swedish, and she told me how the nutrition programs in Swedish schools are quite comprehensive, there's always dark brown bread, cheese, vegetables, and healthy meat options for children. no french fries, no soda, no cookies, no ice cream.

but such things are expensive.
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Old 03-06-2006, 06:43 PM   #7
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When I was a kid we only had ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS on TV and no video games and no computers/Internet. There was a lot less to keep us inside, so instead we went outside to play.

Aw, crap, I just started a sentence with "When I was a kid." I have officially become my parents.
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Old 03-06-2006, 07:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511


but such things are expensive.

Which is why good health is starting to be added to the list of the finer things in life....
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Old 03-06-2006, 08:05 PM   #9
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School menus are largely driven by what the children will eat. They don't want milk, lets try chocolate milk.

Besides, blaming the schools for poor food misses one big point. Parents are sending the kids to school with money instead of a lunch.

Plenty of parents take the easy route when feeding their children. A steady diet of fast food, desert whenever they ask for it.

Fat kids are a clear sign of a comfortably wealth society.
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Old 03-06-2006, 08:59 PM   #10
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We pack our son's lunch, both because the school food isn't kosher and because it gives us more control over what he's getting nutritionally. When I visited his school awhile back, however, I noticed that not only was the cafeteria food pretty sad from a nutritional standpoint, but a lot of kids' packed lunches were too: potato chips, chocolate chip granola bars, and the corn-syrup-sweetened variety of fruit juice. I didn't see any other kids besides my son with vegetables in their packed lunches. Still, while blaming schools per se for bad dietary habits would be misplaced, I do think the content of cafeteria lunches isn't a bad place to start as a focus of concern.

Exercise is really just a question of getting your kids in the habit of playing outdoors by marching them out there yourself from an early age, or taking them swimming and to the Y for pickup games in the winter. 40 minutes of gym class a few days a week won't cut it for creating enjoyment of physical activity--like it or not, most kids just aren't as as physically active these days as they were in the past, so that means parents have to do some compensating by creating opportunities and getting involved themselves. What we've found is that if you get the ball rolling by starting them out young on enjoying active games, they will naturally take to it, and pretty soon you won't have to force them to enjoy physical play any more.

The kids from the New Orleans family who stayed with us for several months were quite overweight, and it wasn't hard to see why: they snacked often and always on high-calorie, low-nutrient foods; and they were accustomed to spending most of their free time plopped in front of the television (we borrowed one while they stayed with us since we don't own one, which we probably shouldn't have done, but the parents wanted one too). Anyways, they actually lost several pounds each while staying with us, because they started eating the fruit and vegetable snacks our kids eat, and started playing tag and soccer in the backyard with our kids because they didn't want to be left out.

I feel more agnostic about the impact of food advertising on children. On the one hand, I think kids like Oreos because they taste good, not because the ads are appealing; on the other hand, advertising definitely increases their sense that something wonderful is being denied them if their parents aren't providing these sorts of snacks. We don't have any delusions about the fact that our kids are more excited about the occasional birthday cake or ice cream treat than they are about the vegetables they eat with dinner every evening, but then our goal isn't really to make them hate unhealthy food--rather just to get them in the habit of seeing it as a special treat, and not something they were meant to have every day.
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Old 03-06-2006, 09:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
School menus are largely driven by what the children will eat. They don't want milk, lets try chocolate milk.

Besides, blaming the schools for poor food misses one big point. Parents are sending the kids to school with money instead of a lunch.

Plenty of parents take the easy route when feeding their children. A steady diet of fast food, desert whenever they ask for it.

Fat kids are a clear sign of a comfortably wealth society.
I agree.

The head of our district school lunch program has told me (and stated in district emails) that the menu is based on what they think the students like.

-pizza

-chicken sandwiches

-hamburgers

-corndogs

-flavored milk and sweet tea


Green beans happen every now and then, but dont count on seeing green peas or collard greens. *I live in the South and that really rankles my collar*

Also, I agree with other posters, students are carried to school.
I work in a middle school with 1400 students and there is one bicycle park out front. Only three students I know of, walk to school.


-On another thread I mentioned how recess time has been reduced to 10 to 20 minutes in most U.S. schools. When I was in school it was an hour.

-Kids inside on the pc and games is another culprit.
*We almost cant blame them, the Safety Police have made swings and other objects so safe and boring and the Soccer Moms keep them in fear of going outside.


I'm off to ride my bike and I am not going to wear a helment.:lol
*a 185 Honda*
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Old 03-06-2006, 10:07 PM   #12
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I know earlier I posted about exercise, etc, but I also think that schools ARE partially responsible. Around here, there's a lot of kids who get 2, sometimes even all three of their meals at the public schools because it's free and their parents are struggling. (On a side note, this is indirectly the reason why we never have snow days anymore...the school admin realized that when school is cancelled, a lot of these kids don't eat). If schools are going to offer meals, then they need to offer healthy meals.

My elementary school started to offer hotlunches Mon, Wed, and Fri and sack lunches (sandwich) on Tues and Thurs. The lunches were pretty healthy, but we had a new problem: the 5 year old kindergarteners and the 14 year old 8th graders were being served the exact same portions.

Overall, I think effectively using school lunch programs aren't as cut-and-dry as it seems.
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Old 03-06-2006, 10:14 PM   #13
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the answer is metabolism.....





PS: I guess it's good for the food industry.....one has to buy more to eat more....it keeps the economy rolling.................
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Old 03-06-2006, 10:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
I know earlier I posted about exercise, etc, but I also think that schools ARE partially responsible. Around here, there's a lot of kids who get 2, sometimes even all three of their meals at the public schools because it's free and their parents are struggling. (On a side note, this is indirectly the reason why we never have snow days anymore...the school admin realized that when school is cancelled, a lot of these kids don't eat). If schools are going to offer meals, then they need to offer healthy meals.

My elementary school started to offer hotlunches Mon, Wed, and Fri and sack lunches (sandwich) on Tues and Thurs. The lunches were pretty healthy, but we had a new problem: the 5 year old kindergarteners and the 14 year old 8th graders were being served the exact same portions.
Is there a correlation between childhood obesity and children who would not eat but for school programs?

And the point you raise regarding portion size is the epidemic of this country. We literally supersize all our meals - probably because we can afford to ($).
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Old 03-06-2006, 10:55 PM   #15
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Wealth actually has a negative correlation with obesity:

http://www.nyccah.org/media/harlem.pdf


It's a long, long read but basically the point is that poor people lack access to healthier foods because of cost.

Edit: Contrary to that, from WebMD:

Here are the income-obesity statistics for 1971-1974:

Less than $25,000: 22.5% obese
$25,000-$40,000: 16.1% obese
$40,000-$60,000: 14.5% obese
More than $60,000: 9.7% obese

Here are the results for 2001-2002:

Less than $25,000: 32.5% obese
$25,000-$40,000: 31.3% obese
$40,000-$60,000: 30.3% obese
More than $60,000: 26.8% obese

Here's how much obesity increased in each category:

Less than $25,000: increase of 144%
$25,000-$40,000: increase of 194%
$40,000-$60,000: increase of 209%
More than $60,000: increase of 276%

what was once a big gap is shrinking fast and will disappear soon.
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