An American Psychological Association survey reported that 42% of U.S. adults gained around 29 pounds in the first year of the pandemic. So it's not surprising that the percentage of obese children and teens jumped from 19% to 22% percent over the same time period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That cannot become the new normal -- it's far too damaging to young people's health, today and tomorrow.
According to researchers from the University of Georgia, kids' excess visceral belly fat infiltrates organs and causes arterial stiffness. That sets them up for everything from high blood pressure to premature heart attacks and strokes, impotence, decreased cognition and increased risk of mental health conditions. In their study of 600 kids, published in Pediatric Obesity, the researchers concluded: The more belly fat, the more damage to the circulatory system. Plus, the researchers found that 145 of the kids had already been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a fast train to even more cardio-damage. As one of the researchers explains, "[Type 2 diabetes] is a very pervasive, scary condition in youth, even more so than in adults. Many body systems tend to degrade at a more accelerated rate if the disease occurs during the growing years. This disease attacks the brain, the kidneys, the bones, the liver."
So, if your child is obese, talk with your pediatrician, consult a nutritionist, start a family exercise program, and make sure you're eliminating processed and red meats and dishing up plant-based meals without any added sugar, sat or trans fats.
Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers.
King Features Syndicate