Childhood Obesity and the Scary Diabetes Forecast

sky on fire

How many things can go wrong, medically, in conjunction with childhood obesity? As time goes on, more and more connections are discovered between overweight kids and a stunning array of problems, both existing and potential. Cause and effect relationships are not always clear or even confirmed, but every new finding is a red flag and another issue that needs to be pursued.

Childhood Obesity News has mentioned diabetes before, of course, but not the prediction that, within less than 10 years, half of America could be affected by it. If present trends continue, what do we have to look forward to in 2020, a mere eight years away? By then, 83% of men and 72% of women will be obese. This is scary stuff, and that’s not just us talking. It’s the very word used about the obesity epidemic by Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Journalist Victoria Stern quotes him as saying:

We’ve been dealing with the obesity trend for the past three decades, but the impact we project on blood sugar is a true shock. Those are some really scary numbers.

Stern sums up the situation:

By 2020, more than 66% of people in the United States will be overweight or obese and more than 50% will suffer from diabetes or prediabetic conditions, according to a study presented at the 2011 American Heart Association (AHA) meeting.

There it is, in black and white. A skeptic could say maybe the researchers were asleep at the wheel, or whatever. But it seems there is a whole separate study, that used different methods on the same basic data, and reached the same scary conclusions.

But wait, there’s more. By the year 2030, they say, the cost of health care around cardiovascular disease will be $1.1 trillion. Can a human even comprehend what that number means? Even with the darkest sky and the best conditions, from any one vantage point a person with perfect vision and no telescope can only see about 2,000 stars. A trillion is a lot more than that.

What leads the AMA to make such dire predictions? The crunching, performed by Northwestern Memorial Hospital, of numbers derived from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). One of the researchers, Dr. Mark Huffman, states a viewpoint that overcomes all arguments about government responsibility versus individual accountability. Huffman is quoted as saying:

Reducing calorie intake on a mass scale requires social, political and economic solutions that are derived from local, regional and national communities… It is a difficult climb for many, so a combined individual-level and population-level approach is required.

One of the more charismatic personalities in the field of diabetes is Andrea Pennington, M.D., sometimes known as the Singing Empowerment Doctor, whose personal crusade is the eradication of both childhood obesity and diabetes. She has served as president of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals, and takes an integrative medicine approach, using acupuncture among other modalities. Dr. Pennington says:

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that is caused by a lack of physical activity, overweight and unhealthy eating. Previously, it was called Adult Onset Diabetes because it usually occurred in people over 40. The age of onset has been decreasing steadily over the last 30 years. Now we have children as young at eight years old being diagnosed with this deadly condition. Sadly, these kids will have a shortened lifespan — by eight to 12 years!

In very brief outline fashion here are the top five strategies taught to parents in a family health makeover, as coached by Dr. Pennington:

1. Take Back The Kitchen
2. Institute A Mealtime Routine
3. Stock Up On Healthy Snack Items
4. Insist On Physical Activity
5. Get A Medical Evaluation

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Researchers Predict “Scary” Rate of Diabetic Conditions by 2020,” General Surgery News, January 2012
Source: “Childhood Obesity and Diabetes: My Personal Mission,” The Huffington Post, 02/02/11
Image by Robert Couse-Baker, used under its Creative Commons license.

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