Well, maybe, and not everywhere. But as this New York Times report from a couple of months ago indicates, in a number of cities things are headed in the right direction. This is particularly significant because there has been very little to celebrate for folks concerned about the rising rates of ill-health among our nation’s youth. For the last thirty years, obesity rates have moved steadily upward — with no sign of improvement.
This news demonstrates the possibility that we’ve hit a high water mark for childhood obesity. This would indeed be a welcome development. The lifelong effects of early obesity are devastating in terms of health and well-being for afflicted children. The effects tend to be lifelong — children who become obese are highly likely to struggle with health and weight issues over time.
This is definitely a sensitive issue. With all the talk of "childhood obesity," I hate to think about how the implicated children likely feel, or their parents. It is important, and often lost, that this isn’t a moral crusade against anyone but simply a public health concern to be addressed. There are reasons that the rate of obesity has spiked, and it isn’t that a ton of kids just stopped having willpower. Something in our environment has changed, and this should concern us all, from parents to doctors to otherwise concerned citizens.
Perhaps public awareness has started to change behavior. Or maybe we’ve just hit a “genetic peak,” in which most folks who are predisposed to obesity have now become obese. Perhaps environmental change has worked — the “obesegenic environments” as they’ve been named, such as school cafeterias have made changes such as eliminating vending machines.
Or maybe some combination, or some other factor. It’s just good to know that change is possible.