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10% of children are already OBESE by the time they hit elementary school


(NaturalNews) For a generation of people who weren't used to take-out for their dinners, McMuffins for their breakfast and a lot of sugary snacks in between, obesity doesn't seem like a legitimate concern. After all, when most of what you eat is home-cooked, the chances of developing health issues due to your diet are marginal, even if you carry some extra weight. However, the problem is different now.

People, particularly children, are used from a very young age to consuming foods that have enormous amounts of trans fat and sugar. While being overweight doesn't necessarily mean you're unhealthy now, it predisposes your body to a host of problems and diseases, including obesity, diabetes and even cancer. Think of your body as armor and of sugary drinks and fast food as swords and arrows trying to pierce it. There's only so much it can take before it cracks.

Old habits die hard

It's no news that most of our childhood's memories affect our entire lives. Habits are no exception to this rule. When you're part of a family that deals with a hectic schedule, eating out is a god-send. With no time to cook or prepare anything, parents are able to make sure that food will be ready at any given point. The fact that most processed food is incredibly cheap and tastes amazingly good doesn't help either.

It's meant to. The purpose of fast-food and snacks are taste and profit, not nutrition. This means that you're going to consume something designed to please your taste-buds and require as little resources to be prepared as possible. You're not even feeding yourself, since your body is not getting the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly. Over long periods of time, you're likely to become addicted.

If this is everything you know as a child, chances are very high that, as an adult, you're going to maintain these eating habits. A recent report by Olympic medalist James Cracknell indicates that 10% of children in the UK are already suffering from obesity when they start elementary school. By the time they leave, 20% of children develop weight issues of this magnitude.

What others should do

Instead of publicly disgracing overweight individuals or humiliating them, schools should encourage children and teens to exercise more, eat healthy and spend as little as possible on junk food. While a degree of honesty is mandatory, it's never a good idea to prey on others' weaknesses or faults just because you're aware of them. If you were a cancer patient about to die, it wouldn't be very funny if someone pointed out your bald head, pale skin or yellow circles around the eyes while telling you to get better.

Gaining weight from such a young age can be just as fatal as cancer. Teenage obesity leads to an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular concerns and heart conditions. In the long run, you also live less. It's just as life-threatening and impairing as cancer can be, but there's no such thing as "cancer shaming." James Cracknell also proposed a tax on sugar, which would at least take out the affordable price from the perfect equation that is junk food.

There's no magic bullet

The sugar tax is no super solution, but it will definitely make children and parents think twice before they purchase a product that's suddenly a lot more expensive. The money raised by taxing sugar can be then spent on prevention methods, such as nutritional education for the young ones and behavioral awareness for those who are struggling already. Other countries have successfully implemented this strategy.

The Olympic gold medalist assessed that the UK could earn as much as £1 billion (roughly $1.4 billion) every year in sugar revenues. Obviously, this money can also fund the costly treatment demanded by current diseases in overweight individuals, but that does little to change the future. In 2014, almost 10% of the U.S. population was officially diabetic, while another 27.8% were undiagnosed patients. Left unsupervised, this trend can rapidly turn into an epidemic in just a couple of years. Maybe we can skip that Happy Meal today.

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