For a brief moment, we believed that childhood obesity was finally declining, but new research suggests that was a statistical blip as the trend of rising childhood obesity rates marches forward. The journal Pediatrics just published a study that found that childhood obesity rates have seen their worst increase since 1999.
And that’s for children aged 2 to 5.
Longtime readers of the Habits of Health can already picture what those numbers mean, but for those of you who may be new, here’s the short version: We know that obesity is a strong predictor for a wide range of health problems and diseases. Your risk of diabetes and heart disease increases exponentially (for example), and your likelihood of realizing your longevity potential (living a long vibrant life) is typically cut down early.
If an individual’s battle with obesity begins as young as 2 years-old, the health challenges and consequences they will face are likely to come early and often. When they have the maturity to realize that they have spent a lifetime building Habits of Disease, they will have to undo decades of habit-building lifestyle choices.
Experts suggest that the childhood obesity problem is complex and may be influenced by everything from television commercials to school lunch programs to the rise of food deserts (places where an option for healthy grocery shopping is not readily available). These are big challenges, to be sure, but the role that we play as role models for the children in our lives is also critically important.
“30 weeks ago I was so miserable. I couldn’t shower without help, couldn’t get dressed without help, couldn’t stand and make dinner, couldn’t stay awake long enough to help my kids with homework or sit and have a conversation, couldn’t or barely fit behind the wheel of a car, I didn’t sleep but maybe 3 to 4 hours a night cause I couldn’t breath, Couldn’t clean my house, all these things Richard had to help me with. NOW!!!!! I CAN DO IT ALL!!!!!! I even have a job and it feels wonderful. There is always Hope. You have to ask yourself HOW am I going to get healthy? WHY do I want it? I know my HOW and WHY. It feels so amazing that I don’t feel so scared to live and wonder if I might die during the night. Now I know that I have a wonderfully healthy life to live and no amount of FOOD is going to take my life from me. I can and will do this.”