The Obesity Epidemic



A visual argument** against high carbohydrate diets for children.

**note: There are many more citations for this specific reading/text, the citations I include happen to be copied over from my paper where this argument originated. Pop me a message if you want original paper with citations.


The children of today are those minds that will be soon powering the human experience. Clearly, this population is of great value and hosts an amazing potential to shape the human experience for the better, but their power for such change is matched evenly with habitual stagnation.

Food consciousness is on a decline, and opposing it death due to health related illness is on the rise. The lack of activity and food awareness is creating sluggish, uninformed youth with expanding waistlines. The obesity epidemic has quickly become a high priority health problem in the United States. It is currently the second highest cause of death due to preventable disease, close behind tobacco use.

A major cause? High carbohydrate diets.

Children need to reduce diets high in carbohydrate, because they are a major cause of obesity, where diets that cause obesity increase the risk for cardiometobolic disorders, psychological distress, and the development of an unhealthy lifestyle.

The use of carbohydrate dense sweeteners increased by 86% between 1909 and 1997, and the type of sweeteners used also changed dramatically. Corn syrup sweeteners, nonexistent at the beginning of the century now represent more than 48% of the US sweetener market; for the general consumer they account for over 20% of the total daily carbohydrate intake and 10% of the daily total caloric intake, an increase of more than 2000%.

Recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data suggest that adolescents are by far the highest fructose consumers, consuming over 70 grams per day (which is about 12% of their total calories); and more than 20% of adolescents consume more than 25% of their total calories as fructose".

Between 1980 and 1997 an increase in carbohydrate consumption from 48% to 54% of total energy intake increased the prevalence of obesity by 80%.

The issue here is not the particular sugars and their qualities; it's their sheer volume of consumption. As a society we eat way past the daily-recommended amount, indulging for example in several sugary drinks day, five or six cookies, or a mound of pancakes for breakfast.

All of that extra energy has to go somewhere, and children certainly aren't balancing the higher energy intake with exercise.

Childhood obesity is a multisystem disease with devastating consequences. Studies show that for young men, chronic high volume consumption of sugary drinks increases cardiovascular risk markers, and that only 3 weeks of moderate consumption is sufficient to show escalated risk markers. Overweight children show increased risk for: premature illness, diabetes, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, elevated fat in the blood, chronic inflammation, blood clotting tendency, heart attack, and stroke. The morbidity of our children skyrockets as they get obese. All of these potential risks add up to a sedentary, immobile lifestyle, a decreased quality of life, and a much shorter lifespan.

Alongside the physical health, mental health is also poor among obese children, where on average overweight children have lower self-esteem and as a result, are more at risk of participating in high risk activates including smoking and alcohol consumption. Studies overwhelmingly conclude that obesity has adverse effects on the psychological health of our children.

Finally, obesity, like many habitual problems is hard to resolve whether old or young and obese children easily mature into obese adults. This lifestyle poses a threat that goes beyond the damage done to the body. The costs associated with the obesity epidemic pose interesting questions. Rates of obesity increased 2-3 times over the course of 25 years in America from 1971 to 1999 (Ebbeling, et al. 473), what are the next 25 to 50 years going to look like?

Currently a whole third of the U.S. population suffers from an obese lifestyle, and 60% of Americans in the U.S. are overweight. The future is bleak; figures suggest that by 2022, 80% of Americans will be overweight or obese (Wang, 2329). And the total estimated cost related to obese and overweight Americans doubles every decade, topping out around 956.9 billion US dollars by 2030 (that's almost a trillion), and accounts for 18% of the total US health-care costs. (Wang, 2329)

This future is not sustainable, acceptable, or defendable. We need to educate the young people of America; this is a future we can avoid. Reduce the amount of sugar you consume, increase your knowledge of the risks associated with poor eating habits.

If nothing else. Do it for the children.