Children are getting fatter. Seriously fatter. To the extent that they are getting all sorts of major, adult-type ailments like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, acid reflux, orthopedic problems, psychiatric problems, sleep apnea, etc. These kids are not a tiny minority. In the West, they are around a third of all kids.
In Indian society, 70% of kids are too thin to be called normal. Amongst Indian children obesity affects, almost exclusively, urban kids. In several studies, the incidence of weight problems (mild to severe) in urban Indian kids has been as high as 30 percent. In the West, a third of the children are already obese, and around 80% of these are likely to grow up into fat adults. The incidence is expected to grow (more in minorities and the poor), and the obesity epidemic has three phases.
Quote from the New England Journal of Medicine:
Phase 1 began in the early 1970s and is ongoing: average weight is progressively increasing among children from all socioeconomic levels, racial and ethnic groups, and regions of the country.
Though it has attracted much attention from the medical profession and the public, childhood obesity during this phase has actually had little effect on public health, because an obese child may remain relatively healthy for years.
Phase 2, which we are now entering, is characterized by the emergence of serious weight-related problems. The diabetes, the bone problems, the psychiatric problems I mentioned initially are all part of this phase.
It may take many years to reach phase 3 of the epidemic, in which the medical complications of obesity lead to life-threatening disease.
By 2035, the prevalence of CHD (Coronary Heart Disease) will have increased by 5 to 16%, with more than 100,000 excess cases attributable to increased obesity among today’s adolescents. Preliminary data from Canada suggest that adolescents with type 2 diabetes will be at high risk for limb amputation, kidney failure requiring dialysis, and premature death.
Shockingly, the risk of dying by middle age is already two to three times as high among obese adolescent girls as it is among those of normal weight.
In Phase 4 permanent, possibly genetic changes in the body will occur and result in a cohort of hungry, fat people of all ages.
The NEJM likens this epidemic to the global warming theory, but with easier solutions.
For more on adolescent and child obesity, click here (old post of mine).