Tom Harte: Hi! I am Tom Harte, Board Member of the National Association of Health Underwriters. Today I am discussing the impact of childhood obesity on our nation and our healthcare costs. Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that occurs when a child is well above normal weight for his or her age and height. The predominance of overweight and obese children is rising at an alarming rate.
The number of adolescents who are overweight has tripled since 1980, and the prevalence among younger children has more than doubled. Looking at the long-term consequences overweight adolescents have 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults which increases to 80% if one ore more parent is overweight or obese.
Over the past three decades the number of children who are overweight or obese has doubled to nearly 25%. This rapidly increasing incidence of obesity among American children pose a significant public health hazards by increasing the risk of premature illness and death later in life. Unless something is done to reduce childhood obesity, American children are on track to live shorter lives than their parents for the first time in US history.
Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start children on the path to other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. For employers, these health problems translate into higher health insurance costs, and with healthcare for obesity related illnesses costing employers at least $45 billion annually. The price tag of this childhood epidemic will only get worse if we don't change our course now.