Childhood Obesity


      Alma Salley-Rumph
      Healthcare Economics HS544
      Professor Walter Howell
      Keller Graduate School of Business
      December 07, 2010

Executive Summary

    Despite steady progress over most of the past century toward ensuring the health of our country’s children, childhood obesity is an epidemic that has taken over and is it growing like wild fire in the 21st century.   This epidemic is occurring in boys and girls in all 50 states, in younger children as well as adolescents, across all socioeconomic strata, and among all ethnic groups though specific subgroups, including African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians, are disproportionately affected.   At a time when we have learned that excess weight has significant and troublesome health consequences, we nevertheless see our population, in general, and our children, in particular, gaining weight to a dangerous degree and at an alarming rate.   Obese children can grow into adults that suffer from heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure, joint and muscle pains, psychological issues, and sleep apnea.
    The increasing prevalence of childhood obesity throughout the United States has led policy makers to rank it as a critical public health threat. Over the past three decades, its rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2 to 5 years and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6 to 11 years. At present, approximately nine million children over 6 years of age are considered obese.   These trends mirror a similar profound increase over the same approximate period in U.S. adults as well as a concurrent rise internationally, in developed and developing countries alike.
  Childhood obesity involves immediate and long-term risks to physical health. For children born in the United States in 2000, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with diabetes at some point in their lives is estimated at 30 percent for boys and 40...