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Obesity: A Real Problem for Today’s Children (Quick Facts)
- 64.5% of Americans are currently overweight or obese. The rate of increase in obesity is twice as high for children as for adults.
- In the United States, obesity now contributes more to chronic illness and health care costs than does smoking. In fact, 7% of all health care expenditures can be attributed to obesity.
- One fourth of all vegetables eaten in the United States are French fries.
- Even if you are a parent committed to healthy eating for your child, they will eventually go to playgroups, birthday parties, school where they will see billboards, watch TV, go to movies, and travel the supermarket aisles where their favorite Disney or Public TV characters are linked with sugared cereals, yogurt, snack foods, and ice cream. You face Goliath.
- They have recently had to change the name of Adult Onset Diabetes to Type 2 Diabetes because so many children are getting the disease these days. In fact, today’s obese children who develop Type 2 Diabetes may need coronary bypass surgery before they are 30 years old.
- Ronald McDonald can be found in every McDonald’s market in the world. He speaks over 25 languages and is the second most recognized figure to children in the world–just under Santa Claus.
- 10-15% of all calories consumed by America’s teenage girls currently come from soft drinks.
- In the 1980’s we began encouraging snacking–relatively unheard of before this decade. We even invented brands like Snack wells, Snack Healthy, etc.
- We have became a culture that embraces “bigness”….we drive SUVs, have big 4 bedroom homes, drink big gulps, eat big macs, etc.
- Restaurants, airlines, and movie theaters have made their seats larger to accommodate our increased girth. Even clothing sizes are larger today than they were 30 years ago.
- It’s not just the fast food and soft drink industry. Massive agribusiness companies have tremendous lobbying power over our government. They often put their business interests over public health. These giant corporations influence what crops the government subsidizes, which commodities are shipped to schools for the National Lunch program, whether soft drinks are sold in schools, even which foods are emphasized in the food pyramid.
- We attack and recognize big industry in this country such as the massive oil industry, the large tobacco companies–what about the giant food industry?
- We are a country that values prevention programs for children. You see this on warning labels for toys that pose a choking hazard, car seats, immunizations programs…yet, we know that food preferences, even brand loyalties are formed early in childhood and we do little to prevent childhood obesity?