EDITORIAL: When it comes to childhood obesity, you can’t sit idly

EDITORIAL: When it comes to childhood obesity, you can’t sit idly

One need not be a dietitian to rightly conclude that the United States has a weight problem. A quick scan of any crowd of Americans bears this out, as do the numbers.

A recent study determined that in the U.S. a staggering 69 percent of adults age 20 and up are overweight. Sadly, younger folks aren’t much better off, as 20.5 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds are considered obese, as are 17.7 percent of children age 6 to 11.

Even kids not far removed from wearing diapers are battling the bulge.

According to a policy brief by the Child Health and Development Institute released this month, in Connecticut, nearly 40 percent of all black kindergartners are overweight or obese, as are nearly 40 percent of all Hispanic kindergartners in the state, and 25 percent of their white peers.

Judith Meyers, president and CEO of the Farmington-based CHDI, is stunned by the findings. “The numbers are staggering, and the health implications are so big,” she said.

“Connecticut’s rates (of childhood obesity) are among the highest in the country.”

What are we to do about this troubling trend?

According to the CHDI, eating nutritious food, getting ample exercise and limiting the time children spend in front of the TV and electronic devices is — not surprisingly — a good place to start.

Acknowledging the state’s childhood obesity crisis, and its likely causes, Connecticut legislators have voted a bill out of the Committee on Children that would impose dietary restrictions and minimum physical activity requirements on child care centers, preschools and elementary schools.

And on March 7 during a visit to Calf Pen Meadow School in Milford, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, announced the reintroduction of the Stop Subsidizing Childhood Obesity Act, which would amend the IRS Tax Code to eliminate tax deductions for advertising directed at children that promotes food and drink of “poor nutritional quality.”

Revenue generated by the elimination of the deduction would fund the USDA’s “Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program,” which provides a fresh fruit or vegetable snack to all students at participating schools.

We commend the politicians who recognize we have a serious problem on our hands, and who are attempting to do something about it.

We can’t just sit by as our children become more and more sedentary and unhealthy.


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