I wonder if Mr. Richard Gertler is aware of the following statistics on childhood obesity and why healthy eating is a weighty issue [Really? Hot dogs are what you're hot about? Viewpoints, May 11].
Today, about one in three American kids are overweight or obese.
Approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents 2-19 (or 12.5 million) are obese (defined as body-mass index (BMI) for age at or above the 95th percentile).
Children with high BMI often become obese adults,%u200B and obese adults are at risk for many chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and osteoarthritis.
High BMI in children may also have immediate consequences, such as elevated lipid concentrations and blood pressure.
In a population-based sample of kids 5-17, 70 percent of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization, poor self-esteem, and depression.
Excess weight at young ages has been linked to higher and earlier death rates in adulthood.
Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.
Childhood obesity is now the No.1 health concern among parents in the U.S., topping drug abuse and smoking.
The medical care costs of obesity in the U.S. are staggering. In 2008 dollars, these costs totaled about $147 billion.
"Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents," says former Surgeon General Richard Carmona
Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases. Reaching and maintaining an appropriate body weight is important. That's why small but permanent changes in eating behavior are more effective than short-term changes.
Parents' involvement in modifying overweight children's behavior is important, and parents who model healthy eating and physical activity can positively influence their children's health. This extends to other adult influencers, such as teachers and principals, and school food programs (including those sponsored by PTOs).
A cursory observation of District 97 principals, teachers, parents, administration staff and board members leads one to conclude that healthy eating is not practiced while being preached (well over 50 percent of these adults are not at their ideal BMI).
Encouraging our kids to gorge on Tasty Dog's menu items for short-term monetary benefit to schools must be truly the stuff of genius parents (perhaps their myelin sheaths have too much of those Tasty Dog lipids or just perhaps they are insane in the membrane).
Kudos to those parents who wrote to Wednesday Journal, and especially those parents who take the effort to teach kids about healthy eating habits. Teaching and promoting healthy eating behavior is one of the most important jobs of a parent. It is literally a matter of life and death. That is, if you know the facts and statistics.
I am the nut (sometimes I feel like one, sometimes I don't) who not only cares about the questionable ethical behavior of our elected officials (soon to be adjudicated by the Cook County Circuit Court) but someone who also cares about our children's health.
The statistics in this letter came from the Centers for Disease Control website, www.cdc.gov.
Founder, Students First of Oak Park
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