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Childhood Obesity is Exploding – Why and How to Stop It

Written by Dr. Daliah Wachs
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Childhood Obesity is Exploding – Why and How to Stop It From the Huffington Post

The World Health Organization (WHO) finds the number of obese children in the world to be 10 times greater than what it was 4 decades ago.

 

They estimate currently 50 million girls and 74 million boys are obese worldwide.

 

Back in 1975 only 11 million children worldwide were obese. Now the number sits at 124 million.

True, population has grown since then, but the percentage of children obese is exploding -- 19% of girls and 22.4% of boys in the US are considered obese.

 

Adult obesity is skyrocketing as well. In 1975 there were 100 million obese adults worldwide. This jumped to 671 million in 2016 and doesn’t include the 1.3 billion “overweight” adults.

 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states the following:

 

Obesity is defined as having excess body fat. Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors. Body mass index, or BMI, is a widely used screening tool for measuring both overweight and obesity. BMI percentile is preferred for measuring children and young adults (ages 2–20) because it takes into account that they are still growing, and growing at different rates depending on their age and sex. Health professionals use growth charts to see whether a child’s weight falls into a healthy range for the child’s height, age, and sex.

  • Children with a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and less than the 95th percentile are considered overweight.

  • Children at or above the 95th percentile have obesity.

 

Why such a rise in obesity?

 

  1. We’re successfully fighting the war on tobacco. Adults especially can’t turn to a stick of nicotine as easily as they once could to curb their appetite.  Teen smoking is down as well, so their appetites may be up.

  2. We like fast food.  Its cheap, yummy and convenient.  For 99 cents you can get a small burger that is served to you in a matter of minutes and can be eaten before your next meeting or class.  Fast food contains excess calories, fat and preservatives that our body doesn’t need.

  3. We eat too quickly.  The speed at which we eat may affect our metabolism.  Eating too quickly prevents a satiety signal from reaching the brain, hence we will gulp down more food than is needed.  For more on this read here.

  4. We don’t move around as much.  We can all agree that children and adults these days don’t play outside as much as we did in previous generations.  And even if we did get some exercise in each day during PE or at the gym, we lose much of the ground gained when we sit on our computers at night for hours on end.

  5. More hormones are in our food.  Hormones such as steroids and recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) that enhance food production in our food-producing animals may affect our metabolism.

  6. Sugar isn’t a treat anymore, it’s considered a food group.  In the 70’s if you got dessert one night at dinner it would be a rare treat.  Today kids have dessert at lunch and even breakfast has sugar levels over flowing the cereal bowl.  Excess sugar leads to fat storage.

  7. Our portions have gotten bigger.  Remember when the Quarter Pounder came out in the early 70’s and we thought it was the biggest burger ever?  Now people will eat two in one sitting.

 

Below is a table showing the difference in portion sizes today vs. the 1950’s.

 

portion sizes.jpg
Image from Daily Mail

 

What can we do to combat the obesity epidemic?

 

  1. Make exercise not a choice but a daily necessity. Schools should have English class conducted on walks around the school rather than sitting in desks. A 30 minute workout should be a given every morning without excuses. We brush our teeth, we wash our hair, we gas up our truck, we exercise.

  2. Eat fresh, avoid fast food.  The more junk food the more junk in your trunk.  Avoid preservatives and processed foods. Your body was designed to eat the basics. Give it what it needs.

  3. Eat slowly.  No need to chow down on the run. If you’re in a hurry then eat half the sandwich as save the rest for later. Which brings us to…

  4. Eat smaller portions. Get rid of the platters you call plates these days and eat your dinner off of a saucer dish. You’ll still fill up your tummy.

  5. Swap vegetables for carbs. It’s healthier, filling, and helps you poop.

Just say NO to sugar.  This will be a hard one for me but if you do it, I will.

 

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 Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.    The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.