Choices Children Have Now

The problem of weight among children has quickly become one of America's leading health problems of epidemic proportions.

We have a serious problem and we need serious people and companies to help out. Unfortunately, most major companies are not taking this seriously enough and their primary focus is still on making as much money as they can. They talk a lot, but don't do enough.

Today, children are not receiving much help from major corporations in their fight to combat weight issues. Other pretenders such as Snapple's all juice drinks, which were supposedly developed specifically for children and the NYC public school system's vending machines, are questionable at best. An 11.5 oz. container of the new Snapple reportedly has 160 to 170 calories and the equivalent of about 10 teaspoons of sugar, 40 or 41 grams. A 12 oz. Coca-Cola has 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar. Not very child friendly!

Amazingly, according to The journal of the American dietetic association, 77% of school principals said their schools had contracts with soft drink companies, and just consider the fact that Coke has signed on as a “sponsor” of the national PTA, and has a seat on the Board. According to NYC's Department of Health & Mental Hygiene and the Department of Education, an incredible 43% of children enrolled in kindergarten through the 5th grade are overweight or obese. And this situation is more than likely typical throughout America.

In addition to the Snapple fiasco in New York, the nation's largest fast-food chain, McDonald's is not very child friendly. In spite of all of the hoopla about their concerns, their Chocolate Milk contains 170 calories and 25 grams of sugar not to mention the sodium, cholesterol, etc. Even their Apple Juice contains 90 calories and 21 grams of sugar in just a 6.75 fl. oz. container.

More evidence that the beverage industry isn't addressing the basic issue of obesity among children is Wal-Mart's private label kids' drinks. The nation's largest retail chain sells "Chubby" flavored water beverages containing 110 calories, 25 grams of sugar and 25 grams of carbohydrates in each 8.4 oz. bottle. They also sell flavored water beverages under the name "Kid Connection" which contains 130 calories, 34 grams of sugar and 34 grams of carbohydrates in each 8.4 oz. bottle. A total disregard for the needs of children!

Other Facts You Should Know

Obesity and the problems associated with being overweight are major public issues that involve almost daily media stories. There are over 60 million children 14 years of age and younger and fifteen percent - about 9 million are obese, up from about 10% a decade ago. Obesity raises the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, angina, lung disease, breathing problems, insomnia and other physical ailments. Emotionally, children are being teased socially among their peers and frequently become ostracized and isolated.

Unfortunately, children growing up today find it's very difficult if not impossible to be a healthy kid. Children are being bombarded with unhealthy food and beverage choices from fast food chains and soft drink companies among others. Children are now exposed to over 40,000 television ads a year, up from 20,000 in the 1970's. Ads for high-fat, high-salt foods have more than doubled since the 1980's while commercials for fruits and vegetables remain in short supply. As we all know, children have far less restraints than most adults when it comes to unhealthy food and drink choices. Just to put it in perspective, the American Heart Association says 27 million children (19 and under) have a high cholesterol level. On top of this, childhood obesity in the U.S. has grown considerably in recent years with some estimates as high as 33% of children and adolescents being obese. Obesity is easy to recognize, but most difficult to treat. And obesity in total is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year with a total medical tab for illnesses related to obesity estimated at $117 billion a year and climbing. Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults unless they adopt and maintain healthier patterns of eating, drinking and exercising. Obesity is fueling the rapid rise of type II diabetes. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 8 - 43% of children are being diagnosed as having type II diabetes. Add to this the fact that 36% of children get no exercise and obviously a serious situation exists - an environment that encourages overeating and discourages physical activity.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's “2002 Population Survey,” there are 60.5 million children 14 years of age and younger or 21.5% of the U.S. population of 282 million.

       Trend of Kids' Obesity

According to the CDC, child obesity tripled recently, 1 in 6 children is considered obese. In fact, many experts feel that today's group of American children may be the first generation in modern history to live shorter lives than their parents did.

All told, children and teens consume more than 64 million gallons of soda each year. Not only are teens drinking more, soda consumption for 6 to 11 year olds doubled between 1978 and 1994. Kids crave “liquid candy.” In fact, up to 85% of kids drink at least one soda daily and 20% consume 4 or more sodas each day. From 1970 to 1998, the average per person consumption of soda in the U.S. climbed from 22.2 gallons per year to 56 gallons. The USDA estimates that kids consume around 1,900 calories a day, even though they need only 800 to 1,300 daily.

From their standpoint, half of all kids say there aren't enough drinks that are fun and good for them. Furthermore, more than 80% of kids say products made with fruit juice enhance taste perception.

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