If you do not have children, should you be concerned about childhood obesity? According to obesity statistics, the answer is yes, especially if you live in America or the United Kingdom, where childhood obesity is at an all-time high. Nearly half of all American children are overweight, obese or morbidly obese.
Obese children can become dead children due to complications from their size. If they survive childhood, obesity statistics show that one-fourth of obese children will grow up into obese adults and die before they are 60. In just the year 1998, 30,000 preventable deaths from obesity happened in the UK. Medical problems directly caused by obesity include Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, arthritis, infertility, chronic heartburn and urinary incontinence.
Everyone winds up paying for obesity, even if those who are at an ideal weight. For example, Americans spend over $147 billion per year on obesity-related medical complications, according to America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) These costs are expected to escalate as obese children become obese adults. In America, one out of every three adults is obese. In the UK, one in four adults is obese. This costs the National Health Service (NHS) spends at least half a billion pounds per year.
This means that a large portion of medical personnel and resources are devoted entirely to treating a mostly preventable illness. Anti-smoking campaigns of the last 30 years helped to free up medical resources, but now sick smokers have been replaced by those with obesity-related complications. This does not leave much left for other sick people. This is a concern especially in countries with government subsidized health plans such as the NHS or America’s Medicare.
There is a risk that overweight people will be stigmatized as being weak-willed and undeserving of medical care. This was how smokers and alcoholics were treated by the general public before it was known that addiction was a disease and not a conscious lifestyle choice. Well-publicized obesity statistics can help people of normal weight understand and sympathize with the obese or with food addicts.
Studies have also shown that sugar is more addictive than heroin. But sugar and fat-filled foods are inexpensive and sometimes the only food choices given in low-income neighborhoods. America in particular has urban “food deserts” without a single store selling fresh fruit or vegetables. Since very poor people do not have cars or money for public transportation, they are forced to get their food to wherever they can walk to – which is usually a fast food restaurant. This promotes obesity.
Obesity statistics constantly show a link between television advertising of junk food and childhood obesity. One positive step has been to limit these advertisements to children. Obesity statistics also show that bad eating habits are learned – usually from watching the bad eating habits of adult members of the family. Many obese children also have depression. Depression is a treatable mental illness and not any sort of character flaw.
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