I’m sure you have read about Michelle Obama’s obesity campaign “Let’s Move” that promotes healthy choices regarding food and exercise for children. We all know this is a serious issue – about 2/3 of adults are overweight or obese and about 1/3 of our children are.
There are a myriad of reasons for this. Let’s start with poor food choices, constant snacking and super-sized portions. It’s even been shown that school age children who eat school lunches are more prone to be obese than those who bring lunches from home. For the most part, our children spend their extra time watching television and playing video games – they don’t exercise.
I must admit that I’ve read about these statistics and about the growing concerns associated with obesity, but my eyes really widened when I read an alarming article about how stroke rates are rising among children and younger adults.
According to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011, CDC analysts reported:
- strokes in children 5 -14 years of age increased by 31% among boys and 36% among girls
- in males 15 – 34 years old, rates increased by 51% and in females 15 to 34 years, it increased by 17%.
Although definitive links are unproven, it is suspected that obesity and hypertension are contributory factors.
To make matters even worse, at this same conference it was also reported that:
- drinking diet soda daily is linked to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack and vascular-related deaths
- high salt intake may double the risk of ischemic stroke, independent of sodium’s role in hypertension.
So, in layman’s terms, those diet soft drinks and potato chips and French fries that so many of our children consume, are upping their potential risk for disease – in the near future rather than in their golden years.
Another recent study by researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School, indicates that feeding an infant solid food before 4 months of age raises the child’s risk of becoming obese by the time they are toddlers.
Physicians and hospitals particularly see the fallout from obesity – diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular problems, etc. As Lee Schwamm, MD, vice chairman of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said, “If we don’t control traditional risk factors – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – we’re going to have a wave of cardiovascular disease in 10, 15, 20 years.”
So, whether you agree politically or not with Mrs. Obama’s hoped-for-legacy, this is a wake up call for all of us as parents (and, yes, I know that many of you are already waging this battle with your children).
The effort we put forth right now may very well save our children from early years of prescription usage, treatment by both physicians and hospitals and the ravaging effects of early onset of diabetes, heart disease, and even early stroke.
So, I don’t know about you, but I think I will pass on the chocolates for myself and my son for Valentine’s Day.