The belief that our kids will die at a younger age than we will is not new. It has been trumpeted by Michelle Obama in recent years as a part of her initiative to fight childhood obesity as well as many other public health advocates.
It stems from a research paper compiled by an expert panel of health and medical advisors as well as mathematicians who specialize in extrapolation. Their combined thinking was clear in its message:
“If the prevalence of obesity continues to rise, especially at younger ages, the negative effect on health and longevity in the coming decades could be much worse.”
While it has become common knowledge that obesity has a substantial negative effect on the health of children and adults, and that children who are obese are much more likely to become obese adults, it also appears that our obesity problem in American stands to erase the advances of science in extending our average life span.
According to the same research, which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, “The prevalence of obesity, especially among children, is likely to continue to rise; with obesity occurring at younger ages, the children and young adults of today will carry and express obesity-related risks for more of their lifetime than previous generations have done… These trends suggest that the relative influence of obesity on the life expectancy of future generations could be markedly worse than it is for current generations.”
Additionally, the following passage makes it clear that new thinking – like perhaps that of Flavor Intelligence and early flavor learning – is needed:
“Unless effective population-level interventions to reduce obesity are developed, the steady rise in life expectancy observed in the modern era may soon come to an end and the youth of today may, on average, live less healthy and possibly even shorter lives than their parents. The health and life expectancy of minority populations may be hit hardest by obesity, because within these subgroups, access to health care is limited and childhood and adult obesity has increased the fastest. In fact, if the negative effect of obesity on life expectancy continues to worsen, and current trends in prevalence suggest it will, then gains in health and longevity that have taken decades to achieve may be quickly reversed.”
While the conclusions inferred in this research are dire, it is this authors hope and that of many others throughout the health and public policy sectors, that something significant can be done to reverse the rapid growth of childhood obesity in America.