An astonishing number of medical conditions coexist with childhood obesity, or show up later — sometimes not even until adulthood — but can be traced back to an overweight start in life. Of course, children and youth are notorious for not worrying about the future. It’s probably not a good idea to let scary stories make up too large a portion of any education program designed to help kids stay slim, for the simple reason that they’re just not oriented to think into the future.
But the grownups are allowed to worry. It’s our job to look out for the one-third of American kids who are overweight or obese. They’re well on their way to reversing the trend of increased longevity for the first time ever. However long we manage to live, it’s beginning to look like our children won’t reach the same numbers that we do. If you live to be 70, your kids will be lucky to make it to 60.
It’s that bad, according to chef and nutrition educator Jamie Oliver. Speaking about childhood obesity, Oliver laid it all out in his talk at one of this year’s TED conferences. These events bring together some of the world’s most advanced thinkers. A link to the video version of Oliver’s talk is at the end of page six of the transcript.
Fast food has taken over the world, Oliver says, and we’re burying people in coffins that have to be hoisted with forklifts because pallbearers can’t cope. Food is processed beyond recognition and pumped up with additives. Portion size and labeling are obviously two fields ripe for intervention. Children can’t identify common vegetables by sight. Schools are feeding kids crap, and nobody is learning how to cook at home anymore. Worst of all, Oliver says,
[d]iet-related disease is the biggest killer in the United States… [O]besity and diet-related disease doesn’t just hurt the people that have it; it’s all of their friends, families, brothers, sisters… This is preventable disease. Waste of life.
Below are a few selected locations where information about specific obesity-related medical problems can be found.
Obesity and Dementia:
“‘Beer belly’ link to Alzheimer’s Disease”
Obesity and Diabetes:
“Childhood Obesity and Diabetes: Two Sides of the Same Coin” by Andrea Sachs
Obesity, Dementia, and Diabetes:
“Link Between Diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease Strengthened”
Obesity and Brain Concussion:
“Kids’ emergency-room visits for concussions double over 10 years” by Kristen Gerencher
Obesity and Calcaneal Apophysitis:
“What is Calcaneal apophysitis?”
Obesity and Limb Injuries:
“Obese Kids Are More Likely to Limb Injuries in Car Crashes”
Obesity and Acid Reflux:
“Childhood Obesity Boosts Risk of GERD”
Obesity and Early Onset Puberty/Delayed Puberty:
“Study Suggests Obesity May Delay Boys’ Puberty” by Joseph Brownstein
Obesity and Leukemia:
“Obesity linked to leukemia progression, finds study” by Yashika Kapoor
Obesity and High Blood Pressure:
“Childhood Obesity, Glucose Intolerance, and Hypertension Increase Risk for Premature Adult Mortality” by F. Bruder Stapleton, M.D.
Obesity and Bedwetting:
“Does eating too much lead to urinary incontinence?” by Amy Norton
Obesity and Asthma:
“Childhood diet linked to asthma prevalence, adult diet linked to asthma severity” by Deana Ferreri, Ph.D.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Chef Jamie Oliver: Why the U.S. Is One of the Unhealthiest Countries in the World,” AlterNet.org, 03/27/10
Image by Pink Sherbet Photography, used under its Creative Commons license.