INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There’s a new troubling prediction out about the future health of children in America. A new study says more than half of kids today could be obese by 35 years old.
Just in October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the adult obesity rate in the United States to a record nearly 40 percent. This research suggests it will only get worse over the coming decades if the trend is not reversed dramatically.
It says a whopping 57 percent of the nation’s children and teens will be obese at age 35.
The research went beyond previous studies that have said obese children are more likely to be obese adults. It suggests that even those who make it to age 20 in good shape face an uphill battle in a world where obesity is becoming the new normal.
The study says a severely obese five-year-old faces an 89 percent risk of mid-life obesity, while a healthy child has still a 53 percent risk. At age 19, a severely obese teen has a 94 percent risk of continued obesity, while a normal-weight peer has a 30 percent risk. This research is suggesting that about half of the people who will be obese at 35 are already obese at age 20.
Riley Hospital for Children pediatrician Meagan O’Neill said about one in three children she has in her practice are overweight or obese, but there are steps parents can take now that will help.
“Decreasing calories taken in in the form of beverages with added sugar, so things like juices, ice tea, lemonade, soda that sort of thing. Decreasing screen time is always a good idea. I like to encourage my families to get comfortable reading nutrition labels to not only know how many calories they’re eating, but also the components of healthy proteins, healthy fats and healthy carbohydrates,” Dr. O’Neill said.
Dr. O’Neill said a big issue is that calorie dense, nutrition poor foods still tend to be more affordable than their healthier alternatives. Doctors suggest children exercise for about an hour each day as well. That means physical activity that gets the heart rate up and even makes kids a little sweaty.
Adult obesity is linked with health problems including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.