The President’s Perspective
The Obesity Problem
The Picture of Health Foundation, Inc. is dedicated and determined to fight childhood obesity. The general consensus is alarming! Childhood obesity threatens the health of our future generation, and thus, the future of humanity as a whole.
According to the latest CDC statistics, there is a fast-growing epidemic of childhood obesity in our Nation. Approximately 13 million children and adolescents in the United States—nearly 60% of whom are either obese or overweight, putting them at higher risk for serious, and even life-threatening health problems. Unfortunately, Georgia’s children have a higher prevalence of obesity than the national sample. As a result, childhood obesity has quickly become a leading preventable cause of death and illness in children. If we don’t reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, the current generation could be the first in U.S. history to live sicker and die younger than their predecessors.
Additionally, obesity also poses a tremendous financial burden to our economy and our health care system. It’s estimated that adult obesity costs our nation between $147 billion and $210 billion per year in medical expenses. Childhood obesity alone carries a huge price tag—approximately $14 billion per year in direct health care costs.
The Health Impact
It has been clearly documented that obese children suffer disproportionately from a number of debilitating conditions including asthma, Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart failure, liver problems, bone and joint problems, growth abnormalities, respiratory problem – such as sleep apnea and restrictive lung disease, emotional and social problems, as well as a reduced exercise capacity.
Studies have also shown that 70% of obese children have at least one cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor, and 39% have two or more CVD risk factors. And this list of complications is just the beginning. Obese children will most likely become obese adults, at which point they will suffer from heart disease, strokes, various types of malignancies, osteoarthritis, gout, gallbladder disease, and other equally devastating illnesses.
How did we get here?
Childhood obesity is the result of consumption of too many calories, often combined with a sedentary lifestyle. In infancy there is the early introduction of solid foods; in early childhood, excessive television viewing; in older children, unhealthy snacking while watching television, web surfing, playing computer and other video games, as well as lack of exercise.
For a combination of reasons, dietary habits have shifted away from healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains to a reliance on fast food, processed snack foods, and sugary drinks (e.g. soda, juices). The combination of eating when not hungry, and the consumption of foods low in nutrients and high in calories also further exacerbate the problem.
To make things worse, the rise in popularity of cell phones, computers, and video games exacerbate our already underactive lifestyle. Children in the US watch an average of 4 hours of television per school day and only one-third of our total number of school-aged children get physical education.
What can be done?
Everyone must be involved – the children, the parents, the teachers, the schools, the local businesses, the community, as well as the Federal and the State governments. We need better health education, more physically active programs, and healthier school nutritional services. An obese child does not have to be an obese adult!
Where we (The Picture of Health Foundation, Inc.) fit in
By slowing down and even reversing the trend of childhood obesity, our nation will be healthier, our medical costs will dramatically decrease, and many lives will be saved. The mission of our foundation is simply to provide the communities we serve with health education for empowering people to alter their unhealthy lifestyles. This will substantially increase both their life expectancy, as well as their quality of life.
Our foundation regularly host and/or participate in seminars and health fairs for this very purpose. We provide blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) screenings at no cost to the people who come through our fairs, thus encouraging more people to get screened on a regular basis. Our health fairs and seminars are held in schools, churches and throughout the community. Our foundation is always seeking new ways to increase their efficacy, as well as partnering with other similar organizations in order to spread our message of healthy living.