Childhood Obesity In The United States
Obesity is a serious and frightening disease, and one in three children in the United States is obese or overweight. Today’s children are expected to be the first generation of kids in American history to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, unless the childhood obesity epidemic is reversed. Children who are overweight and obese are at greater risk for health problems once seen only in adults.
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Bone & joint problems
- Social & psychological problems
- Low self esteem, depression and bullying
- Behavior and learning problems
How Childhood Obesity Became An Epidemic
The dramatic increase in childhood obesity and its related diseases was preventable, as it was caused by changes in the type and quantity of food and drink that our children consume and the decline in their daily level of activity in school and at home. The good news is that the childhood obesity trend is reversible, as lifestyle habits can be improved.
American children eat a diet comprised of largely of “empty calories” in the form of high-sugar, high fat, overly processed food and drink products, and don’t eat enough nutrient-filled, whole foods to fuel their bodies and their health.
- Students consume almost 400 billion calories from junk food sold at school each year.
- The average child consumes at least 20 ounces of soda each day.
- The average child under age 12 consumes 49 pounds of sugar per year.
- 40% of daily calories for 2 – 18 year olds come from sugars and solid fats.
- Most U.S. youth do not meet the daily minimum recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables or whole grains.
Declining Activity Levels
How are children spend their time, both in and out of school, impacts their health and weight. Unfortunately, most children spend their spare time involved in sedentary activities involving a screen, and children aren’t engaged in regular sports or other unstructured physical activity like running, jumping, walking, biking, skating or dancing.
- Children who have the least amount of vigorous physical activity OR view the most television tend to be the most overweight.
- Today’s youth are considered the most inactive generation in history.
- Most children spend about 5 – 7 hours a day of screen time.
- 2 in 3 kids do NOT get the recommended amount of daily physical activity
The Financial Toll of Obesity
In addition to the decline of American’s health, obesity is also hitting the U.S. economy in the wallet. The United States annual health care costs for obesity related illness are $190.2 billion – nearly 21% of medical spending. Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14 billion in direct medical costs.