With the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, it is clear that changes are needed in the U.S. healthcare system. In the United States, over 15 percent of children are classified as clinically obese.
In the last 30 years, the rate of childhood obesity has more than doubled for preschool children age 2 to 5 and adolescents age 12 to 19, and it has more than tripled for children age 6 to 11.
Childhood obesity is the result of multiple complex interactions. But in most cases, poor eating habits and lack of physical activity lead to this disorder.
I believe the rising rate of childhood obesity is a reflection of the U.S. healthcare system as a whole. Instead of just focusing on treating diseases which are often the manifestation of poor healthcare decisions, we should concentrate our efforts on providing our citizens with the tools to make healthy choices for their lives. Family physicians should seize the opportunity to teach children and parents alike proper dietary practices, including the importance of exercise and a positive attitude.
Especially with the graying of the Baby Boomer Generation, the healthcare system will be particularly stressed in the near future. It is in our best interest to promote changes in behavior in young people.
As a country, we need to recognize the importance of basic lifestyle decisions in overall health. Much of modern medicine is focused on dealing with pathological disease states. While there will always be a need for medical expertise in treating acute conditions, many human diseases are the result of poor healthcare choices.
Childhood obesity, while in part caused by genetics, is also a function of one’s dietary practices and exercise decisions. The healthcare system chooses to address this problem down the road, when these patients develop cardiovascular disease or type two diabetes later in life.
It is the responsibility of our healthcare system to teach our children and the population at large about proper healthcare maintenance.
We should focus on preventative measures both because of the enormous strain these diseases put on the present system, but also because it is unethical not to do so.
While many problems with our healthcare system seem much more difficult to change, it is certainly possible to engender a shift by educating our population to make better healthcare choices.
Information from – “Prevalence and trends in overweight among US children and adolescents”