During the last 40 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity in America has nearly tripled, leading to alarming increases in both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict 1 in every 3 Americans born in 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes, while a recent study published in The Journal of Pediatrics found 40% of obese children already have 2 or more risk factors for CVD.
But it's not just diabetes and CVD. Obesity is linked to asthma, sleep apnea, and orthopedic problems, as well as poor self-image and academic performance. The epidemic is so bad some researchers are predicting a decline in life expectancy.
The good news? Organizations in the U.S. and around the world are tackling the problem. Here's how you can help fight this epidemic:
1) Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Since 2005, this partnership between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation has focused on preventing childhood obesity and creating healthier lifestyles for young people. It targets homes, industry, schools, doctor's offices, and the community to empower and inspire kids to make healthy choices. Click here to learn how to join the Alliance for a Healthier Generation cause and promote their programs in your area.
2) Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH)
Originally implemented as a nation-wide scientific study, CATCH programs have been successfully adopted by a number of schools. They combine classroom curricula, food service modifications, physical education changes, and family enforcement to develop healthy eating and exercise behaviors in children. Here's how to start CATCH in your own schools .
3) Active Living by Design (ALBD)
ALBD works with local and national partners to establish lifestyles of regular physical activity and healthy eating in communities throughout America. From biking and pedestrian networks, to improving access to local farmers' markets, ALBD helps create tailor-made programs to promote its goals. Learn more about strategies being used in other cities to fight childhood obesity and how to get your community involved.