Backlash Over Childhood Obesity Guidelines
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines on childhood obesity and boy is there backlash! Their former approach (make lifestyle changes and then wait-and-monitor) wasn’t working so their new recommendations say intervene immediately. They suggest therapy for kids as young as six to learn healthier behaviors, medication for kids as young as 12, and in some instances, surgery for severely obese teens.
If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that obesity and diabetes runs in my family and I’ve struggled with my weight on-and-off for years, so I appreciate that they are taking a comprehensive look at everything, but as a parent, it seems radical, even if some of these recommendations (like surgery) are a last resort. Also, from a practical standpoint, not everyone has medical insurance that covers these treatments, and depending where you live, you might not have access to the behavioral therapy that’s recommended. Also, there’s a lot of stigma around being labelled as obese that could lead to eating disorders.
And yet, it’s widely acknowledged that are kids aren’t as healthy as previous generations. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 children in America is obese, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes and other health risks like fatty liver disease.
According to the National Institute of Health, “The prevalence of obesity changed relatively little during the 1960s and 1970s, but it increased sharply over the ensuing decades—from 13.4% in 1980 to 34.3% in 2008 among adults and from 5% to 17% among children during the same period.” What changed? A bunch of things. People began to eat higher calorie, highly processed foods that were constantly marketed to us in stores and on TV. Portion sizes increased, and kids began drinking more sugary drinks like sodas and juice instead of water. Our physical activities declined. Schools reduced gym class, kids (and adults) spent more time on computers and people stopped walking and drove instead.
I think the problem is that junk food, and highly-processed food in general, is quick, incredibly yummy, and cheap. Food companies pay big bucks to market them to our kids so they have customers for life. I don’t think a weight loss pill or bariatric surgery for a sixteen-year-old is going to be a long-term solution. I think it’s going to take a culture shift to solve this puzzle.
What do you think?
Here’s my story (available on Amazon).
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