Dr. Hu and his Harvard colleagues present their grim study results
We already knew that childhood obesity was a precursor to the development of a variety of health problems as an adult. But now this Reuters story points to a very large Harvard study that showed children who are still overweight by the time they reach adulthood have a proportionally higher risk of premature death due to their poor lifestyle choices and the subsequent obesity-related health complications that follow.
Study co-author Dr. Frank Hu, Associate Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, and his fellow researchers looked at 102,400 mostly Caucasian cancer-free at baseline female nurses ages 22-44 years old and found these women who were either overweight or obese when they turned 18 were much more likely when they were teenagers to drink alcoholic beverages, smoke cigarettes, and not exercise.
Actually, the study showed that even the women who never smoked at all were STILL more likely to die sooner if they were overweight when they turned 18.
As a result, Dr. Hu found the women who fell into the category of overweight or obese at 18 were most likely to die sometime between the ages of 36 to 56 years old. Yikes! In fact, the higher a woman weighs at the age of 18, the greater her chances of dying young will be, according to the researchers. The higher their weight, the higher the mortality rates. Double yikes!
Shockingly, the moderately overweight women at the age of 18 were 50 percent more likely to die before they reached the age of 30(!) while the obese women at 18 years old were MORE THAN DOUBLE at risk for a premature death than their normal weight peers.
Doesn't all of this just take your breath away to hear? This is an epidemic that is killing off people long before they can ever worry about getting old. I mean, come on, the research has found obesity is causing death to come before the age of 30 for those whose weight problem is most severe! Where are the bold headlines on this?! Why do we pay so little attention to a problem that has only been perpetuated by our own poor lifestyle choices? It's all been swept under the rug like it's not happening, but that dust is now beginning to pile up to the point that it can no longer be ignored.
Reading this study just breaks my heart and the saddest part about it is that IT IS ALL PREVENTABLE! Note I didn't say it was easy, but the fact is losing weight can and should happen for these children who are overweight or obese so that by the time they become an adult they will have good habits in place ready to take them forward in life. No, don't expect the government to lose weight for you and perhaps you overcontrolling moms should let up a little.
Unfortunately, so many of us pick up the bad habits we learned as children and carry those over into adulthood. I know I did. How else can you explain someone who weighed 250 pounds when he graduated high school at 17, 300 pounds when he graduated college at 20, 350 pounds when he got married at 23, and kept growing and growing his weight until it reached 410 pounds at the age of 32?
Thankfully for me, the low-carb lifestyle came at just the right moment in January 2004 to save me from the certain devastation that would have befallen me had I not stopped the constantly rising weight gain when I did. I praise God and celebrate the gift of my weight loss experience every day for helping me overcome my obesity problem and take back control of my weight and health.
Of the women who experienced death in this study, 258 of them died of cancer, 55 from heart disease or stroke and 61 committed suicide. That latter group of women are the ones who likely couldn't take the ridicule and scorn of their weight any longer and just decided to give up on life altogether. My heart literally aches for those people now which is why I created this blog as a beacon of hope and inspiration for anyone who believes they'll be stuck being fat forever. OH NO YOU WON'T!
Dr. Hu said his study results should be a wake-up call for parents to do everything they can to make sure their children are living a healthy lifestyle as they are growing up to prevent premature death from happening.
"This paper underscores the importance of efforts to prevent excessive weight gain in children, not only to prevent obesity but also to prevent moderate overweight (people)," he said.
Uh, yeah! I'm gonna step on some toes here (so what else is new), but any parent who allows their child to become overweight or obese and doesn't try to help them lose the weight is guilty of child abuse. That's right, CHILD ABUSE! I know that sounds harsh, but I believe it with all of my heart. Any parent who thinks it is okay for their children to walk around 25, 50 or 100 pounds more than what they should weigh and just turns a blind eye to the problem should be locked up in jail for neglect and should never be allowed to be a parent again!
While I realize there are many reasons for weight gain in children that aren't always tied to their diet, most overweight and obese children got that way because they loaded up on junk food, fast food, and high-carb convenience foods their parents freely bought for them while all but rejecting any form of physical activity in favor of television, video games, and computer work. Parents can create a healthier environment to help their children in this kind of situation eat better and work in fun exercise routines to bring their weight under control. IT IS POSSIBLE!
If you have a chunky kid, then NOW is the time to DO SOMETHING about it. And parents, YOU will need to be the ones who need to take the lead on this by becoming an excellent example for your kids to follow. Don't demand your child live healthier while you plop down in front of that television eating Cheetos and Twinkies right in front of them! How hypocritical!
The fact is they'll eat better and get active when they see YOU doing the same thing. This will also help keep you accountable in managing your own health, which probably needs some work as well. Can I get an amen to that?
Doesn't this seem like a win-win proposition? You betcha!
This study was published in the July 17, 2006 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
You can e-mail Dr. Frank Hu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the end of the Reuters study, there was a reference to another related study that concluded the best way to treat childhood obesity is with prescription drugs and behavior therapy.
With all due respect to those researchers, ARE YOU FREAKIN' IDIOTS?! Kids don't need medications and psychobabble to help them lose weight! What they need is leadership from their parents about the right way to eat and exercise. We need to stop relying on the pharmaceutical companies to come up with a pill to solve all of our problems and start taking better care of ourselves as well as the blessings that God has given us to watch over. Weight loss is needed at ANY age and parents can make this happen for their families.
Childhood obesity is dead serious lethal, but YOU have the power to change that destiny for your child. You might even consider livin' la vida low-carb for that precious child you love. It's a way of eating that they will thank you for teaching them for many years to come. And it is something they will pass on to your grandchildren someday. What a legacy that would be!