Dr. Campbell: The cost of childhood obesity - WFLA News Channel 8

WNCN News

Dr. Campbell: The cost of childhood obesity

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Obesity and obesity-related illness accounts for an enormous healthcare expenditure in the United States today–approaching $150 billion annually. In an era of healthcare reform and cost containment, preventative medicine is essential to success. Rather than rearranging networks, separating doctors from patients and limiting choice, our government may be more effective in reducing healthcare costs by focusing on slimming waistlines throughout the U.S.

According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly 30 percent of adults and 17 percent of children are classified as obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity in children has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. Obesity rates in adults have remained constant–if not increased–over the study period. In fact, in women over age 60, obesity rates have increased from 31 to 38 percent. It is clear that obesity directly results in the development of diabetes, heart disease and other potentially debilitating chronic illnesses.

Data from previous studies clearly identifies habits developed in childhood as a primary determinant of obesity as an adult. In fact, childhood obesity is almost always associated with obesity and health problems during adulthood. This week, a study published in Pediatrics provided a specific cost analysis of childhood obesity and found that each obese child results in an individual $19,000 healthcare cost increase as compared to a child of normal weight. Moreover, when the researchers multiplied the & $19,000 figure by the number of 10 year olds who were estimated to be obese in the U.S. today, they calculated the total lifetime healthcare expenditure in this age group alone to be more than $14 billion.

The adverse effects and negative impacts of obesity on our children stretch far beyond the staggering dollar figures that are illustrated in this most recent study. Obese children are more likely to have risk factors for heart disease and are at increased risk for certain types of cancers. Pre-diabetes is common in obese children and many develop Type 2 diabetes before adulthood. Children with weight problems are more likely to suffer from depression and other mental health disorders including poor self-esteem. Development of such significant medical problems at an early age can prevent a child from truly enjoying the process of growing up and can limit choices and opportunities later in life.

Children of obese parents are far more likely to be obese themselves. America is becoming a culture of sedentary adults (and now children)–increased calorie intake and diminished calorie output. Our children model behaviors that they witness in adults and other mentors. Modeling healthy habits such as regular physical activity and healthy eating can directly impact children and significantly reduce the chances of becoming obese. Habits developed during childhood become part of our daily routine and are incorporated into our system of values and become second nature. If we, as adults, put a priority on diet and exercise early in life, we make it much easier for our children to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle well into adulthood.

This most recent study should serve as a call to action–Americans are fat and are getting fatter. The time to intervene is now. We must set better examples for our children. In a world full of fast food and calorie dense meal choices, we must do a better job demonstrating responsible lifestyle choices. Fill the house with fruits and healthy snacks and avoid fast food meals whenever possible. Help children learn to choose wisely. Parents must encourage more outdoor activities, regular exercise and limit screen time.

As healthcare costs continue to rise, we must focus on prevention. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are significant contributors to our overall healthcare costs and ALL of these diseases are more likely to occur in those who are obese. As a nation, we must become more health conscious and make daily exercise and healthy eating part of our culture–only then will we be able to impact obesity and set an example for change. Only then will we begin to reverse the obesity epidemic of the last 30 years and improve the lives of our children and the generations to come.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.


  • NewsMore>>

  • Kure Beach man sets world record for longest surf

    Kure Beach man sets world record for longest surf

    Monday, September 1 2014 8:09 AM EDT2014-09-01 12:09:39 GMT
    The Town of Kure Beach is now home to the newest surfing world record holder!Ben Shaw started riding waves on Saturday morning at 6:34 a.m. He kept riding throughout the night, until shortly after 2 p.m.
    The Town of Kure Beach is now home to the newest surfing world record holder!
  • Union, NAACP plan 3 Labor Day rallies across NC

    Union, NAACP plan 3 Labor Day rallies across NC

    Monday, September 1 2014 5:59 AM EDT2014-09-01 09:59:20 GMT
    Union and civil rights leaders are joining together for a series of rallies and news conferences across North Carolina on Labor Day.
    Union and civil rights leaders are joining together for a series of rallies and news conferences across North Carolina on Labor Day.
  • Family of Sampson Co. house fire victims pay respects

    Family of Sampson Co. house fire victims pay respects

    Monday, September 1 2014 5:36 AM EDT2014-09-01 09:36:18 GMT
    Six people, representing three different families, died in a house fire over the weekend.Six people, representing three different families, died in a house fire over the weekend.

    Family and friends of six people who died in a house fire paid their respects Sunday evening. Flames ripped through a mobile home on Gibbs Road just outside the town of Garland in Sampson County early Saturday morning.

    Family and friends of six people who died in a house fire paid their respects Sunday evening. Flames ripped through a mobile home on Gibbs Road just outside the town of Garland in Sampson County early Saturday morning.

  • Health with Dr. CampbellMore>>

  • Dr. Campbell: Managing Peanut Allergies in School

    Dr. Campbell: Managing Peanut Allergies in School

    Monday, September 1 2014 5:00 AM EDT2014-09-01 09:00:16 GMT
    Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect an estimated four to six percent of children in the United States.
    Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect an estimated four to six percent of children in the United States.
  • Dr. Campbell: Backpack safety

    Dr. Campbell: Backpack safety

    Monday, August 25 2014 5:00 AM EDT2014-08-25 09:00:15 GMT
    As Students in our area go back to school, most will purchase a new backpack in order to carry essentials to and from school. It’s important to talk about keeping kids safe ---backpacks can result in back injury, but there are strategies to help you and your student pick the right type of backpack and use it properly, avoiding serious injury.
    As Students in our area go back to school, most will purchase a new backpack in order to carry essentials to and from school. It’s important to talk about keeping kids safe ---backpacks can result in back injury, but there are strategies to help you and your student pick the right type of backpack and use it properly, avoiding serious injury.
  • Dr. Campbell: The role of vaccines in school

    Dr. Campbell: The role of vaccines in school

    Friday, August 22 2014 9:28 AM EDT2014-08-22 13:28:00 GMT
    Infectious diseases account for millions of school days lost each year for kindergarten through 12th-grade public school students in the United States. Forty percent of children aged five to 17 years missed three or more school days in the past year because of illness or injury.
    Infectious diseases account for millions of school days lost each year for kindergarten through 12th-grade public school students in the United States. Forty percent of children aged five to 17 years missed three or more school days in the past year because of illness or injury.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.