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Weight Control

Skyrocketing Pediatric Obesity Trend Sparks Concern


More than half of all children eat too much fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar, recent federal findings indicate — a statistic that is prompting major organizations in California to urge parents to scrutinize their children's diets and physical activity.

"Twenty-five percent of the nation's children are overweight or at risk of being overweight, putting them at higher risk for development of life-threatening and debilitating diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and osteoarthritis of the knee," said Dr. Gary Arsham, president of the American Diabetes Association's Western Region.

These statistics also are of particular concern because up to 20 percent of overweight children remain so throughout life, once again heightening the risk for life-threatening diseases, according to Joan Stevie, president of the Arthritis Foundation's Northern California chapter.

Stevie's and Arsham's organizations, along with the American Heart Association's Western States Affiliate, and the California Broadcasters Association, are calling attention to the increasing prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity as part of their educational efforts surrounding this month as Obesity Awareness Month in California.

"Obesity is a disease with serious, adverse health effects for which all methods of treatment should be pursued through diet, exercise and, under a physician's direction, medication," Stevie added.

Research has shown that being overweight during childhood is the leading cause of pediatric hypertension. In addition, overweight children are at high risk for developing long-term, chronic conditions, including adult-onset diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes), coronary heart disease, orthopedic disorders and respiratory disease.

"Tip the Scales in Your Favor," a public-awareness campaign initiated by the four organizations, is working to educate Californians about the links between obesity and serious, treatment-intensive diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoarthritis of the knee.


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