Dr. Campbell: The cost of childhood obesity - WNCN: News, Weather

WNCN News

Dr. Campbell: The cost of childhood obesity

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Obesity and obesity-related illness accounts for an enormous healthcare expenditure in the United States today–approaching $150 billion annually. In an era of healthcare reform and cost containment, preventative medicine is essential to success. Rather than rearranging networks, separating doctors from patients and limiting choice, our government may be more effective in reducing healthcare costs by focusing on slimming waistlines throughout the U.S.

According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly 30 percent of adults and 17 percent of children are classified as obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity in children has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. Obesity rates in adults have remained constant–if not increased–over the study period. In fact, in women over age 60, obesity rates have increased from 31 to 38 percent. It is clear that obesity directly results in the development of diabetes, heart disease and other potentially debilitating chronic illnesses.

Data from previous studies clearly identifies habits developed in childhood as a primary determinant of obesity as an adult. In fact, childhood obesity is almost always associated with obesity and health problems during adulthood. This week, a study published in Pediatrics provided a specific cost analysis of childhood obesity and found that each obese child results in an individual $19,000 healthcare cost increase as compared to a child of normal weight. Moreover, when the researchers multiplied the & $19,000 figure by the number of 10 year olds who were estimated to be obese in the U.S. today, they calculated the total lifetime healthcare expenditure in this age group alone to be more than $14 billion.

The adverse effects and negative impacts of obesity on our children stretch far beyond the staggering dollar figures that are illustrated in this most recent study. Obese children are more likely to have risk factors for heart disease and are at increased risk for certain types of cancers. Pre-diabetes is common in obese children and many develop Type 2 diabetes before adulthood. Children with weight problems are more likely to suffer from depression and other mental health disorders including poor self-esteem. Development of such significant medical problems at an early age can prevent a child from truly enjoying the process of growing up and can limit choices and opportunities later in life.

Children of obese parents are far more likely to be obese themselves. America is becoming a culture of sedentary adults (and now children)–increased calorie intake and diminished calorie output. Our children model behaviors that they witness in adults and other mentors. Modeling healthy habits such as regular physical activity and healthy eating can directly impact children and significantly reduce the chances of becoming obese. Habits developed during childhood become part of our daily routine and are incorporated into our system of values and become second nature. If we, as adults, put a priority on diet and exercise early in life, we make it much easier for our children to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle well into adulthood.

This most recent study should serve as a call to action–Americans are fat and are getting fatter. The time to intervene is now. We must set better examples for our children. In a world full of fast food and calorie dense meal choices, we must do a better job demonstrating responsible lifestyle choices. Fill the house with fruits and healthy snacks and avoid fast food meals whenever possible. Help children learn to choose wisely. Parents must encourage more outdoor activities, regular exercise and limit screen time.

As healthcare costs continue to rise, we must focus on prevention. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are significant contributors to our overall healthcare costs and ALL of these diseases are more likely to occur in those who are obese. As a nation, we must become more health conscious and make daily exercise and healthy eating part of our culture–only then will we be able to impact obesity and set an example for change. Only then will we begin to reverse the obesity epidemic of the last 30 years and improve the lives of our children and the generations to come.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.


  • NewsMore>>

  • Durham police: 5 hurt in crash

    Durham police: 5 hurt in crash

    Thursday, July 31 2014 11:00 PM EDT2014-08-01 03:00:58 GMT
    Durham police say five people were hurt when two vehicles crashed Thursday night on Holloway Street.Police say it happened about 9:30 p.m. in the 2700 block of Holloway, that's near the Durham city-county line.Police say traffic is being diverted around the area on Adams and Rochelle Streets.Some of the injured were taken to the hospital, but their conditions were not immediately available.
    Durham police say five people were hurt when two vehicles crashed Thursday night on Holloway Street.Police say it happened about 9:30 p.m. in the 2700 block of Holloway, that's near the Durham city-county line.Police say traffic is being diverted around the area on Adams and Rochelle Streets.Some of the injured were taken to the hospital, but their conditions were not immediately available.
  • Local Liberians lend help to fight Ebola outbreak

    Local Liberians lend help to fight Ebola outbreak

    Thursday, July 31 2014 10:30 PM EDT2014-08-01 02:30:11 GMT
    Local Liberians lend hand to fight Ebola outbreakLocal Liberians lend hand to fight Ebola outbreak
    The Ebola outbreak in Africa is hitting close to home for some people in the Triangle who are originally from Liberia. They’re doing what they can to help.
    The Ebola outbreak in Africa is hitting close to home for some people in the Triangle who are originally from Liberia. They’re doing what they can to help.
  • Missionaries with Ebola could be brought to US

    Missionaries with Ebola could be brought to US

    Thursday, July 31 2014 9:23 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:23:03 GMT
    Emory University Hospital officials say there are plans for an American aid worker who has been diagnosed with Ebola to be transferred there for treatment.
    Emory University Hospital officials say there are plans for an American aid worker who has been diagnosed with Ebola to be transferred there for treatment.
  • Health with Dr. CampbellMore>>

  • Dr. Campbell: New gene therapy may replace pacemaker implants

    Dr. Campbell: New gene therapy may replace pacemaker implants

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:11 AM EDT2014-07-30 13:11:17 GMT
    A new technology that allows genes to be injected into hearts with damaged electrical systems may replace the need for pacemaker implants in humans in the future.  A new technology that allows genes to be injected into hearts with damaged electrical systems may replace the need for pacemaker implants in humans in the future.
    A new technology that allows genes to be injected into hearts with damaged electrical systems may replace the need for pacemaker implants in humans in the future.
    A new technology that allows genes to be injected into hearts with damaged electrical systems may replace the need for pacemaker implants in humans in the future.
  • Dr. Campbell - New study suggests that we can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease

    Dr. Campbell - New study suggests that we can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:00 AM EDT2014-07-23 09:00:23 GMT
    Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that can be quite devastating to both patient and families. Today in the U.S., more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
    Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that can be quite devastating to both patient and families. Today in the U.S., more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Dr. Campbell: Can sitting at your desk cancel out the benefits of exercise?

    Dr. Campbell: Can sitting at your desk cancel out the benefits of exercise?

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:08 AM EDT2014-07-22 14:08:09 GMT
    There is now evidence that time spent at your desk may actually reverse the benefits that you have obtained from that quick pre-work trip to the gym or a run or walk during your lunch break.
    There is now evidence that time spent at your desk may actually reverse the benefits that you have obtained from that quick pre-work trip to the gym or a run or walk during your lunch break.
Powered by WorldNow

1205 Front St., Raleigh
N.C., 27609

Telephone: 919.836.1717
Fax: 919.836.1687
Email: newstips@wncn.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.