(Natural News) Despite a renaissance in organic foods and more information available than ever before about how to eat clean and avoid toxic, prepackaged, GMO-laden menus, America’s insatiable appetite for unhealthy fare grows — along with our waistlines.
According to the most recent figures, more than half of all children in the country — 57 percent — are on pace to become part of the obesity epidemic that is sweeping not just the United States but the West in general.
As reported by Agence France Presse, researchers found that the majority of American kids will become obese by the time they reach the age of 35 unless there are dramatic changes not only in personal dietary habits but also public health policies.
A report published in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that the risk of becoming obese is high even among kids who are, are present, at a normal weight.
“Only those children with a current healthy weight have less than a 50 percent chance of becoming obese by the age of 35 years,” said the study, which was conducted by a Harvard University research team.
Currently, roughly 36.5 percent of the American adult population is considered officially obese, which federal health officials have determined consists of a body mass index of 30 or more.
This is big and growing problem — pun intended — because already the obesity epidemic costs the U.S. economy some $147 billion a year in added medical expenses, lost productivity and other economic factors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Adult obesity is linked with increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer,” noted Zachary Ward, an analyst and lead study author at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Our findings highlight the importance of prevention efforts for all children as they grow up, and of providing early interventions for children with obesity to minimize their risk of serious illness in the future.”
The Harvard team based its study on a simulation model that forecast upcoming trends based on information about height and weight drawn from five nationally represented studies involving more than 41,000 kids and adults.
“Obesity will be a significant problem for most children in the U.S. as they grow older,” said the report. “Of the children predicted to have obesity as adults, half will develop it as children.”
Previous research has found that excessive weight gain as a child is difficult to reverse once that child becomes an adult. Researchers have discovered that among overweight toddlers at the age of two, three-quarters of them will grow up to be obese as well.
Only one in five kids who are currently obese — 4.5 million — will grow up to be a normal weight. (Related: Fatty liver disease on the rise in children—from too many sweet treats.)
There are also racial and ethnic disparities among obese children, researchers have found. Black and Hispanics are more likely to become obese than white children, and that trend also follows them into adulthood.
“It is critically important to implement policies and programs to prevent excess weight gain, starting at an early age,” noted senior author Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology at Harvard.
“Plenty of cost-effective strategies have been identified that promote healthy foods, beverages, and physical activity within school and community settings.”
Also, independent media like NaturalNews.com are leading the way in educating millions about the positive impact a clean, healthy diet can have on long-term health.
Obesity dramatically increases cardiovascular disease and diabetes, both of which lead to increased healthcare costs, especially to taxpayers who fund public health entitlements like Obamacare and Medicaid. Public policies that reward and encourage proper diets would go a long way towards lowering the cost of administering public health programs.
But something has to be done; it’s insane to continue funding and expanding these programs without requiring those who are on them to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.