Obesity

In the last three decades, overweight and obesity has nearly tripled in 12-19 year olds and quadrupled among the younger 6-11 year olds. One-third of young people in grades 9-12 don't regularly engage in vigorous physical activity. Out of overweight 5 to 10-year-olds, 61% have one risk factor for heart disease, and 26% have two or more risk factors. Hospital costs related to treating overweight and obese children and adolescents more than tripled from $35 million during 1979-1981 to $127 million during 1997-1999. Among adolescents, 32% of hose who consume at least one soda per day are either overweight or obese. It is said one 12-ounce can of soda contains between 10-20 teaspoons of sugar and experts agree sweetened drinks are a contributing factor in this national health crisis, which underscores the critical importance establishing a healthy diet at an early age. Obesity can lead to a plethora of premature cardiovascular risk factors in the young. In the Chad/Living heart pilot in western Massachusetts, we found 1/3 of the high schools students screened were at risk for one or more of the following cardiovascular risk factors: hypertension, clogged arteries, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity or structural heart anomalies.