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The Number-One Health Concern of Wisconsin Parents

PHOTO: Lindsay Scheidell, American Heart Association in Wisconsin, says childhood obesity is parents' biggest health concern, and the battle is far from over. Photo courtesy American Heart Assn.-Wisconsin.
PHOTO: Lindsay Scheidell, American Heart Association in Wisconsin, says childhood obesity is parents' biggest health concern, and the battle is far from over. Photo courtesy American Heart Assn.-Wisconsin.
April 21, 2014

MADISON, Wis. - A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saying childhood obesity rates are plummeting did not stand up when researchers took a more careful look at the data. The real numbers are cause for concern, according to Lindsay Scheidell, American Heart Association-Wisconsin.

"Today, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese," Scheidell said. "That's nearly triple the rate in 1963. So, with good reason, childhood obesity is now the number one health concern among parents in the United States, and also here in Wisconsin. It's topping drug abuse and smoking."

The battle against childhood obesity is far from over, she added.

"The Heart Association would like to say that signs of progress are clear across the country in that fight to decrease obesity rates, but the only clear sign is that there's so much more work to be done. Although declines are in sight only among very young children," she said, "the rate of severe obesity is still on the rise among teenagers."

Excess weight at young ages has been linked to higher and earlier death rates in adulthood. Researchers predict obesity and severe obesity in adults to increase significantly until 2030.

According to Scheidell, the pattern is often that obese children become obese adults, facing serious health issues.

"Childhood obesity now is causing a broad range of health problems previously not seen until adulthood. Those include high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. These are all risk factors leading toward cardiovascular disease, which still remains the number one killer of all Americans."

Until the trends shift in the opposite direction, she said, the Heart Association is looking to community leaders to set aggressive goals that support a culture of health, from fitness options to healthier diets for children and adults.

More information is available at www.heart.org/childhoodobesity.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI