Kids don’t become obese overnight. And no, I’m not talking about the kids that are larger than the others, but their doctors say they’re healthy. I’m not talking about the children who blow up during a growth spurt and lose all of it when they take their first step onto a high school campus. Rather, I am talking about the children who, for a variety of reasons, are gaining too much weight and not losing it.
It is important to first and foremost define obesity. According to Mayo Clinic—in the simplest sense—obesity is a condition of excessive body fat. This is not being overweight or having “more to love,” but rather, it is a condition that time and time again has been seen to cause heart disease, high blood pressure and has been linked to diabetes. With these shocking facts, it is also seen that an increasing number of children are turning out to be defined as not just overweight, but obese, in the United States. According to the CDC, in 1980, only 7 percent of children in the United States who had been surveyed had been defined as being obese. This means that holistically, American children we getting an “A” in being a healthy weight. However, in 2012, 18 percent of children were obese in the United States. In just 32 years, the United States had gone from earning an “A” in maintenance of a healthy weight concerning its children to a “B-”. We can blame whatever sources we want: educational systems failing to have children exercise during school, parents not encouraging their children to play outside or fast food companies loading up their food with hormones. Whichever way you take it, the fact of the matter is that too many children in the United States are consistently weighing too much for them to be healthy.
While there are subsequent psychological and social problems children who are obese face, the physical repercussions are far worse. According to Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who suffer from obesity during childhood frequently suffer from hyperlipidemia, hypertension and are also found to increase their chances of suffering from obesity during their adolescence and then on again through their adult life. As they continue on this path of obesity, these children increase their risks of dying of strokes and heart attacks as well as development of diabetes and suffering from complications associated with diabetes. Since 2012, our numbers have not gotten better, but drastically worse. According to the American Heart Association, one in three children in the United States will suffer from obesity. This means we have gone from a “B-” to a “D” in three years. These numbers drastically increase when looking at people of color throughout the United States, especially in African American and Hispanic populations.
Knowing the various life-threatening problems that can come from obesity, it is our duty as human beings—as well as decent citizens—to do something to stop obesity in children. If we stop it from the root, we severely decrease its chances of being problematic later on in a child’s life. We should care, because it is shameful for the United States to have one in three children in our country suffering from a terrible condition when we have one of the best healthcare systems globally. We must stop childhood obesity, not because we may suffer from it or because our children do, but because we’re in a terrible state when one in three children suffers from a condition that leads to a normally completely avoidable disease. Children are the future. If you care about the future, you should care about stopping obesity in children.