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.