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Get Out And Play - The Childhood Obesity Epidemic

In this article I want to discuss the disturbing increase in childhood obesity in the United States. There are some frightening numbers being mentioned with regards to the growing number of children who are obese. Fifteen percent of children aged 6 to 19 are obese which means their BMI (Body Mass Index) is above the 95th percentile for their age.1 The Bogalusa Heart study showed that nearly 90% of kids less than eight years old who are overweight become obese adults.2 And as every day passes those figures, like the waistlines of America’s youth get bigger and bigger.

Type II Diabetes Explosion
Normally, children who develop diabetes have what is now referred to as Type I diabetes (formerly known as juvenile onset diabetes). Type II diabetes used to be called adult onset diabetes since nearly all the patients who developed it were in their 40s or older. However, that is rapidly changing! Prior to 1992 only 3-10% of new diagnoses of diabetes in kids aged 10 to 19 were Type II. Just two years later in 1994, Type II DM accounted for 33% of the new diabetes diagnoses in this same age group, and 100% of these kids were obese!3 According to the Center for Disease Control, one out of every three children born in the year 2000 will develop Type II Diabetes unless they eat better and exercise more.

Lack of Exercise
Besides poor eating habits, another reason for this explosion in childhood obesity is lack of physical exercise. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, Illinois is the only state that makes physical education mandatory for grades K-12. Fewer than one out of four children get 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity per day. Meanwhile, based on results from the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids spend an AVERAGE of FIVE hours in front of a TV or computer.

In the coming months, I will expose several nutrition myths, give hard data on some key tips towards losing body fat, and explain many hot nutrition topics. But before I go, I leave you with one final staggering fact - kids born today, for the first time in history, have a SHORTER lifespan than their parents due to poor diet and lack of exercise!


1. Schwartz, R.P., MD. (June 2003). Soft Drinks Taste Good, But The Calories Count. The Journal of Pediatrics 142, pp. 599-601.

2. Freedman, D.S.; Dietz, W.H.; Srinivasan, S.R.; & Berenson, G.S. (1999). The Relation of Overweight to Cardiovascular Risk Factors Among Children and Adolescents: The Bogalusa Heart Study. Pediatrics 103, pp. 1175-1182.

3. Pinhas-Hamiel, O.; Dolan, L.M.; Daniels, S.R.; Standiford, D.; Khoury, P.R.; & Zeitler, P. (1996). Increased Incidence of Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus Among Adolescents. Journal of Pediatrics 150, pp. 81-86.