Curbing Childhood Obesity Starts with Early Flavor Experiences

iStock_85000029_LARGE.jpgIn a well-written and well-researched article by Jane Brody in the New York Times, a strong case is made for urgency in fighting childhood obesity. Two new studies conducted with more than half a million children found that obese children were much more likely to develop health problems such as colon cancer, rectal cancer, or clot-related stroke.

Further more, the American Academy of Children and Adolescent Psychiatry states that “overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults”. – unless they adopt and maintain a healthy pattern of eating and exercise. “A child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.” Additionally, another study, found that “overweight 5-year-olds were four times as likely as normal-weight children to become obese by age 14.”

And the bad news for obese children extends beyond physical health issues and the propensity to become obese adults. Obese adolescents have higher rates of depression and poor self-esteem. Another study out of the University of California, San Diego, found that obese children and adolescents had a diminished quality of life similar to that of children with cancer. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2012 18% of children and 21% of adolescents were obese. Imagine, 20% of our kids and teenagers are living life feeling as badly as if they had cancer, and this for something that is totally preventable.

The article ends with mentioning that it’s mostly the parents’ responsibility to curb childhood obesity in their children, but refers to a study from the Netherlands where researchers found that parents of 2,205 5-year-olds “underestimated their overweight child in 85% of the cases.”

Let’s take a quick look again at the issues surrounding childhood obesity:

  • obese children are at a much higher risk to develop serious health problems as adults
  • obese children are very likely to become obese adults
  • obese children lead a diminished quality of life similar that of kids with cancer
  • parents are poor judges of whether their kids are overweight

So what’s the answer to solving our childhood obesity problem? Prevention and early intervention by raising our children’s Flavor Intelligence. Children need to “learn” which flavors they should love. A love for healthy foods can be taught later in life, but it’s much more difficult.

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