Hope for the Obesity Epidemic in US

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One in three children and youth (ages 2-19) in the United States are currently overweight or obese.  Children who are overweight are more likely to become overweight adults.

Dr. David S. Ludwig, director of obesity program at Children’s Hospital Boston said, “Obesity is such that this generation of children could be the first basically in the history of the United States to live less healthful and shorter lives than their parents.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2010.  Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.”

Physical activity and healthy eating are the perfect combination to curb obesity and to help people maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Healthy eating can prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke.  ‘Healthier Generation,’ a program established to crack down on the obesity epidemic stated, “Physical activity helps control weight and builds lean muscle, reduces fat, builds strong bones and helps with muscle and joint development.”

‘Let’s Move, Active Schools,’ is a program founded by First Lady Michelle Obama.  The program aims to increase opportunities for kids to be active in and out of school and to create opportunities for families to move together. Mrs. Obama said, “Children in this generation need to start exercising for at least 60 minutes a day.”

If this sounds like too much work for the average child, consider the fact that eight to 18 year olds spend an average of 7.5 hours a day viewing TV or using computers, video games, and cell phones.  Only roughly one-third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical education.

Student Athlete Josh Welsh said, “With the obesity epidemic increasing why are so many children playing on an electronic device for over 7.5 hours a day?  It doesn’t make sense.”

‘Let’s Move, Active Schools’ provides plenty of useful ideas to make schools more active by building more physical activity into the school day, by including additional physical education classes, recess, and opening school facilities in the afternoon so that families can exercise together.

Physical education is not the only thing that the American people lack.  Americans are growing up in a technological world with too much fast food.  By increasing physical activity and trying to eat more healthy options, many children can start to control their weight.