We’re getting fatter. Except when we’re not.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Sorry about that, but, sometimes, the facts have a decided nonsensical bias.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement that read, in part:
- Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
- The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 21% over the same period.
Obesity, in this case, is defined as having excess body fat. Being overweight means having excess body weight for a particular height.
We’ve been fighting against childhood obesity for years now. And, it seems, we’ve been winning. Partly.
While obesity rates for most Americans haven’t changed significantly over the past decade, among kids ages 2 to 5 the obesity rate dropped from 14% in 2003-2004 to just over 8% in 2011-2012, according to a report out Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That represents a drop of 43%, CDC said.
“I am thrilled at the progress we’ve made over the last few years in obesity rates among our youngest Americans,” First Lady Michelle Obama said in a statement. “Healthier habits are beginning to become the new norm.”
Which is, of course, good news. But we shouldn’t be getting cocky about this little, tiny piece of a very large pie.
According to the CDC report, older children made no progress, with nearly 18% of kids ages 6 to 11 remaining obese, as well as 20.5% of kids ages 12 to 19. In women over age 60, obesity rates climbed from 31% to 35.4% in the same period, the study shows.
Obesity “remains at historic highs,” says David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital, who has warned that today’s kids could be the first generation in history to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents. He described the declining obesity rates among youngsters only as an “encouraging preliminary finding.”
Which means we, as parents, have to continue working with our children and ourselves to make sure we eat better, exercise more and stay healthier.
It’s one reason I’ve started losing weight. Not that I object to people telling me how good I look*, but I wanted to show my three young dudes that it is possible to eat well and be healthy without resorting to some bizarre diet, or giving up and getting fat. Eat less and exercise more and you will lose weight and feel better. And possibly use the word and more.
I’m not suggesting that we parents monitor every single morsel that enters the mouths of our children. That would be silly. Mostly because they will get older and they will make decisions on what to put into their own mouths when they’re not around us. So we need to show them ways to eat fun food and still be healthy. We need to show them how to determine if a food is healthy or not.
And I think we are starting to do that. We just need to keep at it. What do you say, dudes? Wanna get healthy?
Footnotes & Errata
* Because I don’t object to it at all. Please feel free to tell me that any time you see me.