December 12, 2012 is the last repetitive date we will see. Our children; however, may see the next repetitive date which falls on January 1, 2101, 89 years from now – but not if we continue in the poor state of health that we are in now. According to the American Heart Association, one in three children are either overweight or obese. Due to the complications of obesity, today’s children may have a shorter life expectancy that their parents. How did we get to a place where our kids won’t live as long as we will – and what we can do about it?
Obesity has large financial implications that cost Americans significantly. According to the American Public Health Association, in the year 2000, obesity cost the United States an estimated $117 billion; $61 million of that was due to healthcare costs and $56 million for indirect costs on disability, future earning due to premature death, and work lost due to illnesses.
Overweight and obesity put people at risk for hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, strokes, cancer, and diabetes. This all costs money – if people lost ten percent of their weight, it could reduce their lifetime healthcare costs by $2,200 to $5,300. If trends don’t change, how many people will be obese by the year 2101, and what will the cost of healthcare be then?
Obesity Epidemic: How Did We Get Fat?
The causes could possibly begin before we were even born, according to the Let’sMove report. “The Challenge We Face.” Pregnant women who use tobacco, gain excessive weight, or have diabetes give birth to children who are more likely to be obese during their preschool years.
The parent’s genes can also influence whether or not the child will be obese, but the biggest factor may be our environment. We are surrounded by advertisements for food, fast food is all around us, physical education is hard to come by in schools, and the television is on more than it should be.
It will be the simple changes that will make this biggest impact. Healthy lifestyle changes including healthy eating and physical activity are key to reducing obesity. These changes, although they seem simple, require hard work – this isn’t a quick fix, but can have lasting, positive outcomes.
Schools can serve as role models by serving healthy breakfasts and lunches, doing away with unhealthy snacks and drinks in vending machines, adding physical education, and having recess. Schools are also places where our children can learn about health behaviors and ways to make changes.
12/12/12 Babies: Life Expectancy
Obesity has become an epidemic, and if nothing is done to combat this, then life expectancies will continue to decrease, health problems and missed work days will continue to increase, and our health outlook will look nothing like it does today. However, if adults make changes to lead healthier lives and our children follow our lead, then maybe the children of today will live to see January 1, 2101, our next repetitive date.
American Heart Association. Overweight in Children. (2012). Accessed December 12, 2012.
American Public Health Association. What we know about childhood obesity. Accessed December 12, 2012.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Childhood Obesity Facts. (2012). Accessed December 12, 2012.
Let’sMove.gov. The Challenge We Face. (2012). Accessed December 12, 2012.
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