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Teenage Obesity on the Rise

Excerpt By Ned Potter,

Twenty years ago, approximately 6 percent of children and teenagers in Canada and the U.S. were considered overweight. Today, the rate is over 15 percent.

The biggest concern for Doctors back then was chickenpox. Now, many teenagers are 30 pounds overweight with more health problems than ever before.

"The combination of watching too much TV and eating junk food — if you'll pardon the pun — feeds itself," Dr. Gerald Hass, a physician in Boston says.

There are new figures showing he's not alone.

Fifteen percent of the nation's children and teenagers are considered overweight, the American Heart Association announced today. That number has grown from 6 percent 20 years ago, and those numbers add up to a crisis.

Increasingly, doctors say, they're seeing children with adult diseases — high blood pressure, clogged arteries and type-2 diabetes.

To some extent, they blame the children's appetites, but they say larger culprits include parents, fast-food restaurants, a fast-paced society, and schools that neglect their students' health. In 2001, only a third of high school students went to a daily gym class.

"Our physical education programs have been replaced in many states and instead they've been replaced by vending machines that offer soda and candy bars," said Dr. Robert Bonow of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, who is also president of the American Heart Association.

From Fat Teens to Fat Adults

And today's obese teenager is tomorrow's obese adult. Half of today's overweight kids will never manage to get back to a healthy size.

"Children will form the next wave of this epidemic," Bonow said.

Epidemic is the word. This month, when Men's Fitness called Houston the nation's fattest city, it was the third year in a row.

Houston took exception, but also took the insult to heart.Lee Labrada, a former Mr. Universe, is now Houston's official "fitness czar."

"I believe that every American city has cause for concern with this problem of overweightness and obesity," he said.

Doctors say the solutions are not easy — just urgent. Kids need an hour of activity a day, and they need to eat better.

A 12-year-old who has a burger, large fries, and a soda for lunch gets enough calories to last the next day and a half.

Reference Source 104


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