Healthy Behaviors White Paper
Combating the Childhood Obesity Crisis: Taking Advantage of an Unprecedented Opportunity
Among the millions of children and young people in our communities, poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles cause serious health issues, lower self-esteem, lead to social and psychological problems and contribute to poor academic performance.1 If this pattern continues into adulthood, as it usually does, it will lead to an unprecedented rate of premature death and disability, diminished workplace productivity and staggering financial repercussions for families, insurers, healthcare providers and our society.
Overweight is the most common health problem facing children today, and it has reached epidemic proportions. It ranks as the #1 concern for children in the United States, ahead of drugs, alcohol and gangs.2 Without intervention, one in every three children born in 2000 is likely to develop type 2 diabetes in his or her lifetime, and for children of color the number increases to one in two.3 There is strong evidence that this is the first generation of children who will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.4 We can, and must, reverse this trend.
- What if we could easily reach millions of the most vulnerable children?
- What if we could change their eating habits and physical activity levels?
- What if we could do this at little or no additional cost?
- Successful Students Through Healthy Food and Fitness Policies—Student Wellness: A Healthy Food and Physical Activity Policy Resource Guide, California School Boards Association and Project Lean (2006)
- National Poll on Children’s Health. Publication of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, the University of Michigan Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and the University of Michigan Child Health Evaluation Unit, Vol. 4 Issue 2, July 14, 2008.
- Vinicor, Frank, MD, Director, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Diabetes Division, cited in Revised Definition Means Millions More have Pre-Diabetes, New Release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, April 29, 2004.
- Olshansky, et.al., “A Potential Decline in Life Expectancy in the United States in the 21st Century,” New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 352:1138-1145, March 17, 2005