Earlier this year in an interview regarding her new campaign against the epidemic of childhood obesity First Lady Michelle Obama said "We know the numbers, I mean, one in three kids are overweight or obese, and we're spending $150 billion a year treating obesity-related illnesses. So we know this is a problem, and there's a lot at stake." (ABC News, Feb. 9th, 2010)
She’s right. One in three, is a staggering statistic. Our society in general has become more dependent upon technology and less apt to physical activity. Kids today have so many more interesting things to focus on than going outside and tossing a Frisbee or running around the park. Also, food choices are worse than they have ever been with kids opting for fast food, sodas or whatever they can get from the vending machine. While adults struggle with the effects of obesity in the present, children don’t necessarily feel it but they are certainly primed for trouble down the line.
Children have a freedom that adults often envy because they have their whole lives ahead of them but as horrible as it may sound, obesity can and will affect what should be a bright future. Some of the most serious risks are heart disease and diabetes which could set in far too early. High blood pressure and cholesterol levels can lead to strokes or heart attacks. In addition to the heart, other internal organs such as kidney, liver and digestive tract can become strained leading to more serious conditions.
Bones and joints are also at risk. Imagine suffering from back, knee or hip pain in your twenties. Carrying around extra weight for long periods of time takes its toll on any body but because children are still growing the potential problems are amplified.
If that wasn’t bad enough, we must also consider the emotional and mental impact of childhood obesity. Overweight kids tend to have a reduced self-image, depression, and anxiety. They are usually less popular and engage in fewer social events. With these emotional struggles the child often turns to food combined with some other form of escape like video games or internet addiction causing the underlying weight issue to get worse not better.
Childhood obesity is real, it is dangerous and sad. But we can do better. Physical health must become a priority moving forward, not just for us adults who continue to pack on the pounds each year but for future generations as well.
Just a few years ago, the acclaimed Disney/Pixar film Wall-E depicted a sobering future for the human race, as gelatinous blobs, so dependent upon computers to run their lives that they can no longer exert themselves beyond a few feet. If we are not careful that light-hearted cartoon vision of our future may become reality.

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