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Childhood Obesity Crisis: How Spending Money To Fight It Will Save Billions Of Dollars

Posted Oct 18 2012 10:15am

From Policy Mic…..

Childhood obesity has been characterized as the most serious and prevalent nutritional disorder in the nation. Since 1980, its prevalence has almost tripled. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 17% of children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19 are now obese, and this number is only increasing. This problem must be addressed by the American educational system. Schools must focus on creating not only an intellectually capable individual, but also a physically healthy one for the benefit of the United States.

The problems with childhood obesity are many and varied, but one of the clearest issues is its easy transferability into adult obesity as adolescents age. Obesity obviously imposes personal costs, but also has huge external costs that effect all Americans. In 2008, estimates showed that adult obesity (considered to be a partial result of childhood obesity) imposed medical costs that were $1429 higher for obese individuals than for their non-obese peers. The social costs totaled a massive $147 billion. To put this into perspective, the federal government took in about $280 billion in revenues from corporate taxes in the same year. These costs translate into higher health care premiums for all insurance subscribers, and increased outlays for Medicare and Medicaid.

While school breakfast and lunch programs offering balanced meals with high ratios of nutrition to calories are necessary, suggesting these programs will solve the problem of childhood obesity reminds me of a popular proverb: “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.” If you think of this in terms of the school system’s role in nutrition, it would sound more like, “Give a kid a healthy meal, and he will be healthy for a day. Teach a kid to make healthy decisions, and he will be healthy for a lifetime.” That’s why I suggest incorporating more nutritional education into lower school’s curricula.

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