September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

By Nicole Guttermuth

Courier Staff

09-11 Page 1A.inddSeptember has been dubbed National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and it is for good reason that such awareness campaigns exist both nationally and locally. Did you know that one in three children in the United States is overweight or obese?

Currently, South Carolina ranks 39th in the United States in overall prevalence of childhood obesity, with 33.7 percent of children considered either overweight or obese. According to the recent Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System (PedNSS), which assesses weight status of children from low-income families participating in WIC, 28.5 percent of low-income children age 2-5 are overweight or obese in South Carolina.

Even more children are at-risk of becoming obese adults by the year 2030. That’s what a new report from Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) concluded. And unless both the federal and state governments take steps to curb the trend, cases of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other weight-related conditions are projected to spike.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, President of the RWJF, says that if people don’t start making changes, obesity numbers will rise.

“If obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030, the obesity rate in South Carolina could reach 62.9 percent,” she said.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2011, 30.8 percent of adults in the state were obese.

Nationally, by 2030, 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60 percent, 39 states could have rates above 50 percent, and all 50 states could have rates above 44 percent. Mississippi could have the highest obesity rate at 66.7 percent, and Colorado could have the lowest obesity rate for any state at 44.8 percent.

The report claimed that if states’ obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis could increase 10 times between 2010 and 2020 — and double again by 2030. As a result, obesity could contribute to more than 6 million cases of type 2 diabetes, 5 million cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer in the next two decades.

Further, by 2030, medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion per year, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030.

Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

The good news?

Childhood obesity can be prevented.

In next week’s issue, we will offer some suggestions for how to confront the problem of childhood obesity and offer some advice on preventative measures families and children can put in place to combat this alarming trend among our children.