Childhood obesity (including being overweight) has arrived at epidemic levels.
Globally, an estimated 22 million children under the age of 5 are overweight; 10 percent of those ages 5 to 17 are overweight or obese.
During the last two decades, annual obesity prevalence rates in the 5-to-17 age group have increased by 0.5 percent per year in Brazil, and by almost 1 percent per year in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
In the United States, the rate among children has almost tripled since 1980.
This up-tick in the United States is attributable to the exponential rise in the use of high fructose corn syrup in many foods.
This benign-sounding, yet insidious, substance turns off the body’s “appestat,” which prevents the brain from alerting the eater that the stomach is full.
Most initiatives responding to childhood obesity focus on nutrition, physical activity and body composition.
Numerous U.S. programs focus on increasing physical activity and improving food choices. One popular program in the United States is “NFL Play 60,” The National Football League’s “Movement for an Active Generation.”
The current contest, called “Earn Your Stripes,” encourages young people to play 60 minutes a day. The grand prize is a trip to Super Bowl XLIII.
Local YMCAs promote the “Activate America” program that provides rewards to children for their participation in fitness-related activities. Each spring, more than 1,400 YMCAs host a Healthy Kids Day.
As nations begin to feel the cost of treating obese adults, we expect to see an increase in these kinds of programs, focusing on all the factors contributing to childhood obesity, not just a few.
The return on investment will be substantial.
From The Herman Trend Alert, by Joyce Gioia-Herman, strategic business futurist. www.hermangroup.com