Almost 1 in 16 children are morbidly obese in the United States. These children all have a greater risk of many illnesses, self-harm and premature death. “Obesity during childhood and adolescence is associated with a wide range of illnesses, negative social consequences, and poor academic performance,” the American Journal of Preventive Medicine said. The national obesity rate among ages 2 to 19 rose from 19.3% in 2019 to 22.4% in 2020, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The national average for youths who are morbidly obese (those who are 100 pounds over their recommended weight) is 6.1%.
Kimarra Thorbourne planned to restrict added sugar in her babies’ diet as long as possible, but the Windsor mother recently started giving her 7-month-old twins “Motts for Tots” juice “to introduce them to something new.” At their 6-month checkup, the babies’ pediatrician said nothing about avoiding fruit juice or sugar. But research shows that the food and beverages babies and toddlers consume influences their taste preferences and eating habits throughout life. For babies, human milk, formula and water are all they need to drink for the first year, pediatricians say. Dr. Michelle Van Name, a pediatric endocrinologist with Yale Medicine, tells her patients that cow’s milk is the recommendation for toddlers—and it’s less expensive than juices. She said toddlers should be introduced to water at an early age so they develop a taste for it because if they get used to sweet drinks, they won’t like water.
Industrial-scale farming and food processing are greater factors in rising obesity numbers in Connecticut and worldwide than individual behavior, scientists say. This complex food system feeds directly into greenhouse gas emissions and accelerated climate change. Last year the journal The Lancet identified a global “syndemic” linking climate change to obesity and poor nutrition, referencing dozens of studies. Earlier, in 2017, the journal Public Health reported “significant and new insight about the causal link between obesity and environmental emissions.”
In Connecticut, 27% of all adults, almost 12% of children and 14% of toddlers (ages 2-4) have obesity. In 1990, the rate for adults was 10%, reports Connecticut Data Haven in its 2019 Community Health Well-Being Survey.
As a nation, we are fat and getting fatter—and that means something entirely different for men than it does for women. On the medical side, a recent study says that obesity is three times more deadly for men than it is for women. The study, published in the July edition of the British medical journal The Lancet included 3.9 million adults in Europe and North America. The adults were between the ages of 20 and 90, none of them smoked, and none had any known chronic disease. So here’s irony: Though obesity is far more dangerous for men, women suffer the most social pressure over it, from the dieting industry, from their employers, and even from medical professionals.