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Thursday, March 24, 2011

America's childhood obesity crisis: Some scary numbers

It is no secret that childhood obesity is a crisis this nation faces.

For three decades, our nation’s children have gotten bigger and unhealthier, leading to a bevy of diseased as adults and skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Last week, The Washington Post held a summit to address the issue and call for active, healthy kids. As an organization that is at the forefront of fighting childhood obesity, we at DC SCORES want to A) Help in educating the public about just how serious a problem this has become; and B) Demonstrate how programs like ours actively promote healthy lifestyles beginning at a young age.

Today, we’ll focus on the problem. The numbers tell the story:

According to First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Almost 1 in 3 American children are obese or overweight. (Being obese is an extreme form of being overweight; anyone who is obese is 85-95% overweight.)
  • Nearly 40% of African-American and Hispanic children are obese or overweight.
  • The childhood obesity rate in the United States has tripled during the last 30 years.
  • Americans eat 31% more calories than they did 40 years ago, including 56% more calories from fats and oils and 14% more from sweeteners.
  • Americans consume 15 more pounds of sugar per year than in 1970.
  • An obese preschooler has a 30% chance of becoming an obese adult.
  • An obese teenager has a 70% chance of becoming an obese adult (and an 80% chance if they have an obese parent)

These numbers – and there are more – should be scary. There’s no debate. Our nation faces a childhood obesity crisis that is debilitating in many ways, with many people at risk of serious health issues at a young age – such as Diabetes and heart disease – the most pressing issue.

The solution is twofold. While DC SCORES can’t make children eat nutritiously at home and during the school day, our coaches encourage and promote healthy lifestyles through exercise and daily lessons about living well.

Our next post will throw out some more frightening statistics but also focus on what, exactly, we’re doing to aid in the challenge of tackling childhood obesity.

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