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Sick Before Their Time: More Kids Diagnosed With Adult Diseases

Sick Before Their Time: More Kids Diagnosed With Adult Diseases

Medical experts predict that today's children will be the first generation that will not outlive their parents. This is partly due to the sharp rise in obesity among American children. Steven Kenneth Galson, former US Surgeon General, states that the obesity epidemic is a result of "an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition."

Galson goes on to say that "Sedentary behaviors such as television viewing, computer use, and video game playing often replace vigorous physical activity in children. At the same time, more fast foods, convenience store snacks, and sweetened beverages are available now than in past generations. Our youth's lack of physical activ­ity and poor eating choices need to be addressed by everyone so that we can combat this major public health dilemma."

Doctors are also seeing an alarming number of children suffering from chronic diseases that use to be seen only in middle-aged adults. Years ago, physicians rarely saw children with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, joint inflammation, high cholesterol, and the beginning stages of heart disease, yet it is now considered normal for today's physician to see these diseases on a regular basis. According to the Surgeon General, parents, caregivers, and teachers can play a major role in encouraging children to be more physically active, and incorporating health supporting curriculum in their lesson plans. Parents can model healthy eating habits by choosing foods that are low in saturated fats and calories while schools should increase the nutritional value of lunches and limit the number of nutritionally deficient foods. Children consuming the typical American diet will suffer the consequences later when they are an adult, in the form of cancer, heart disease, autoimmune, and diabetes, just to name a few.  

Steven Galson summaries by saying, "As parents, caregivers, teachers, mentors, public health leaders, and other concerned citizens, it is our responsibility to take immediate action to mitigate this serious and growing public health epidemic. We can and must work collaboratively, using available science and evidence of effective programs to ensure that our children receive encouragement and guidance to make healthful choices for physical activity and good nutrition. Optimally, we act as role models, with our own health behaviors promoting a healthful lifestyle by example. This will result in a public health movement that will not only help reduce the burden of childhood overweight and obesity, but also lessen the occurrence of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol." Read the article "Sick Before Their Time" here.

For more information on how diet plays a major role in promoting childhood/adult illness, see Dr. Carney's Children and Teen's Health Pinterest Board

Read former US Surgeon General, Steven Galson's Childhood Obesity Perspective here.

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