Kids in the United States are sicker than ever and are facing chronic illnesses at epidemic levels, a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found.
The number of U.S. children with chronic illnesses has quadrupled in the last 30 years, setting the scene for a new generation of adults facing disability and higher health costs. Among the massive increases noted in the study were:
* A fourfold increase in childhood obesity in the past three decades
* Twice the asthma rates since the 1980s
* ADHD, which was not even recognized as a medical condition in 1968, is now diagnosed in about 6 percent of kids
While in 1960 just 1.8 percent of youngsters had a chronic health condition that limited their activities, in 2004 that number jumped to 7 percent. Meanwhile, with the childhood obesity epidemic growing, the number of young adults facing weight-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease is expected to increase as well.
Most Childhood Chronic Illness is Preventable
Most kids are fortunate enough to start off with a relatively clean slate when it comes to their health. Sadly, as even the JAMA researchers pointed out, it is overwhelmingly environmental and social changes that are driving this worsening of kids’ health.
Things like increasing fast-food diets, more time spent in front of the TV and not outside playing, and parents who are not serving as good role models when it comes to health are having devastating effects on the nation’s children (not to mention their parents).
If this epidemic of chronic illness is not reversed we will, for the first time in history, see a generation of kids living shorter lives than their parents. But you can stop the epidemic in its tracks by making healthy lifestyle changes like:
* Cooking healthy meals at home
* Getting regular exercise as a family
* Trading soda for water
* Keeping a positive state of mind, and teaching your kids to do so as well
Journal of the American Medical Association June 27, 2007, 297:2755-2759
Bloomberg June 26, 2007