Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mothers In Denial Promote Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Childhood obesity has been a hot topic in the news lately - and for good reason. This is a critical issue that homes in on the potential health care catastrophe of the future. Although about 60% of adult Americans are overweight or obese today, many of these plus-sized grown-ups didn’t start off that way. Unfortunately, a culture of processed foods, super-sized portions, and a blatant disregard for physical activity has led to a generation of heavy individuals. Obesity is at the root of numerous diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and puts enormous strain on the national budget.

And we haven’t seen the worst of it. As chubby children grow up and get chubbier, weight-related health issues will begin earlier and earlier. Instead of starting a cholesterol-lowering drug regimen at middle-age and continuing for 20 years or so, an obese child might start on a statin as early as 12 and depend on that medication to manage his condition for the rest of his life. As expensive as it is to medicate obese or hypertensive adults, drug costs associated with heavy children place a burden on the US economy both in the present and for decades to come.

Prevention is key. If we can educate children and their caregivers about proper diet and exercise, odds are, some healthier choices will be made. From both a health and financial standpoint, we clearly need to slim down - unfortunately, it’s not so easy. A recent study showed that 47.5% of heavy mothers didn’t recognize the fact that their child was overweight. If caregivers are unaware that there is even a problem, then no action will be taken to improve the situation. Additionally, physicians are reporting increased office visits from mothers with normal weight children who are worried that their child is underweight and not meeting physical developmental milestones. This is alarming because it highlights the sad fact that “fat” is the new normal.

If overweight truly becomes the norm, we will face a host of problems down the road.

1 comment:

Affiliated Physicians said...

It is up to parents to be a good role model and encourage healthy habits. Parents are the ones who control the majority of their child's diet. It starts at the top and works its way down.