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A Growing Epidemic

by The United We Serve Team

Childhood obesity is a serious and growing epidemic. It cuts across all categories of race, ethnicity, family income and locale. For the first time in our history, American children may face a shorter expected lifespan than their parents. That is why the Corporation for National and Community Service has joined forces with the Department of Health and Human Services, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and the First Lady’s Let’s Move. initiative to address this important issue facing America’s future as part of United We Serve’s summer initiative, Let’s Read. Let’s Move.

Researchers have estimated that more than 12 million children and adolescents are obese, and more than 23 million are overweight. Alarmingly, the obesity problem is starting at an even earlier age. Researchers estimate that over 20 percent of children ages 2 to 5 are already obese or overweight, more than double the percentages of the past three decades. Over the same time the obesity rate for children ages 6 to 11 has also more than quadrupled – from 4.2 to 19.6 percent – and tripled for adolescents ages 12 to 19 – from 4.6 to 18.1 percent – over the past four decades.

Obese and overweight children:

  • May suffer during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood with poor health, as well as face academic, social, and financial burdens.
  • Are more likely to be unhealthy, unhappy, and absent from school than their healthy-weight peers.
  • Are at increased risk for health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, disease that was once considered an adult illness.
  • Are also more likely to have key risk factors for cardiovascular disease than their peers.
  • Are more likely to become obese adults, suffer from poor health and die at an earlier age than their healthy-weight peers.

Some populations are more likely to be obese or live in unhealthy environments than others. Blacks, Latinos, American Indians, people of lower-incomes, and those living in the southern part of the United States are all affected more by obesity than their peers.In turn, communities with high levels of poverty are also significantly less likely to have places where children can be physically active, such as parks, green spaces, and bikes paths and lanes. Many of these communities have access to half as many supermarkets as the wealthiest areas.

Solutions to this epidemic can be as simple as joining together to clean up a park, rehab a playground – or to encourage your kids, friends, co-workers, classmates, family members to take the Let’s Read. Let’s Move Summer Fitness Challenge! Join our team and commit to six weeks of healthy and active living. Get involved. Join the United We Serve team!

Learn more about the Let's Read. Let's Move Summer Fitness Challenge by visiting serve.gov/exercise.

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