To Solve Obesity Problem, We Need To Start With The Children

I bet you’re thinking to yourself — enough already with the obesity topic! Well, there’s a reason I harp so much about obesity; it’s because, despite all that’s been written about obesity and its consequences, it’s getting worse. Obesity threatens not only our personal health, but the health of our society. The consequences of obesity results in 300,000 premature deaths a year from such chronic diseases as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancer.

While we’ve made great strides in curbing another scourge to society, cigarette smoking, obesity rates continue to grow at an alarming rate. Given current trends, the latest studies predict that half of Americans will be obese by 2030, resulting in $500 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity. If we are going to make any headway in preventing this disease, we must target the country’s youngest and increasingly heaviest citizens: children.

Before we can tackle the problem, parents must first acknowledge that obesity is a disease.

A new survey released today by Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City shows that more parents would find it “very important” to seek medical care for a child with diabetes symptoms (81%), asthma (80%) or a learning disability (74%), whereas only 54% of parents feel the same approach is needed for a child who is overweight. 

Nearly all parents say they would seek medical attention for a condition that would limit their child’s life expectancy (94%) or impact his or her future health care costs (93%). Obese children have both immediate and future health problems, such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

Other key findings of the survey included: few parents are supportive of extreme interventions for overweight children, including weight loss surgery (5%), medication (16%) or removal from their parents’ custody (6%), and more parents support moderate interventions such as outpatient treatment programs (51%).

Parents are supportive of proposed regulations that:

  • Require healthy options in all public places that have vending machines (81%).
  • Require that health insurance companies cover obesity treatment (77%).
  • Require sidewalks in all neighborhoods (76%).
  • Strengthen regulations on food marketing to kids (73%).
  • Control locations of fast food restaurants (for example, limiting placement near schools) (60%).
  • Tax foods such as potato chips and sweets (39%).
  • Full results of the survey can be found here or on the Children’s Mercy website.

Parents clearly recognize that there is an issue and that they can have an impact on combating obesity. Now is time for parents to set a healthy example and work with both physicians and schools to encourage a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity, healthy habits and nutritious food. Our country is at the crossroads of a major healthcare crisis that is affecting the quality of life for Americans and, increasingly, our economy. Investing healthcare dollars into programs that prevent and better manage chronic diseases have been shown to improve lives and lower costs. Let’s get busy!


[Photo By Mike Licht,]

Originally published at, written by Jeff Kreisberg

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6 Responses to “To Solve Obesity Problem, We Need To Start With The Children”

  1. We know that this obesity problem, especially with minorities, stems from poor and limited choices of food. Latinos that live in poverty are especially susceptible to obesity because their diet consist of staple items, lack of access to fresh vegetables, and fruits and don’t even get me started on the cost of them. Also the lack of transportation contributes to this because they are forced to purchase at more expensive prices, those cheaper staple items at the local “bodegas” so yes we have an obesity problem, and yes we have to make changes, but we have to deal with poverty issues as well, that afflict the Latinos, that contribute to obesity.

  2. My granddaughter Desiree Toledo-Leyva is one of 15 original national Youth Board Members of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation whose goal is to impact youth obesity.(
    My daughter Andrea Toledo-Leyva was featured in a wonderful book sponsored by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, “Be Well; Messages From Mom’s On Living Healthier Lives”. (

    We have dedicated the last four years to this challenge attempting to bring attention to the special needs of Latino and Indigenous communities and their unique conditions. Unfortunately we have been unable to secure greater focus other then symbolic rhetoric of concern.
    Thank you for addressing the epidemic!

  3. I lived in a very poor section of town when I lived in the states and my mother never took us to McDonalds or any other fast food joint. We always had home cooked meals even when we fell on the hardest economic times during the early 80’s did my mom opt for feeding us poorly. She incorporated all sorts of vegetables in our diet along with proteins. She never bought cookies or soft drinks. It was water, sometimes fruit juices or milk. When we went trick or treating during our adolescence, she took the bags from us and controlled what we ate. Thankfully I am not an obese child and neither are my sisters. We were always active between playing outside, riding our bikes, and yes we even played video games at home. As we become a more connected online world, we see that people have become sedentary and maybe life moves at a faster pace than the 70’s and 80’s, but I see more kids on-line or playing video games in the park, when they should be running or jumping. I am a new parent and 7 months being vegetarian. I don’t say that a vegetarian lifestyle is for everyone, but I changed my lifestyle due to health issues with protein and calcium. My daughter is being raised vegetarian. I am in a position where my family has a small farm in Puerto Rico and we can get fresh organic local vegetables and eggs. Even with all of the healthy eating my mom provided for us, she is overweight and has diabetes and dad has high cholesterol and heart issues. After my parents started with these issues, I made sure to watch what I ate and I provide them with advice. But roles have reversed, they don’t want to listen to me about what they need to change in their diets in order to lead healthier lives with out medication.
    Just recently we encountered the issue of someone a family member trying to give our 8 month old a piece of cake while her dad was holding her. He had to tell the family member not to do that because the baby did not need it. The family member stated that kids were given all sorts of food and nothing every happened to them. Funny thing is that many of the family members suffer from diabetes and cholesterol problems due to poor food choices. I put my two cents in and said that when the time is right she will have cake but that the ingredients in the cake pose health risks to my daughter (some cakes in P.R. bakeries are made with lard). I don’t want my daughter to be at risk for obesity because both of her grandmothers are extremely overweight. It is going to be an uphill battle raising a daughter who is vegetarian in Puerto Rico amongst all the pork that is sold on the island. LOL But the only thing I can do is provide her with the best nutrition and what she does as a young adult, will be her choice. Great article and topic folks! Pa’Lante!

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