Consumption is skillfully reinforced with billions of dollars' worth of advertising, much of it aimed at those just learning to talk. In many neighborhoods, fresh fruits and vegetables aren't available and when they are, they're often far pricier than the dollar menu. In this sort of toxic environment, even well-educated people have trouble navigating the nutritional landscape.
And, by the way, if you think burgeoning childhood obesity rates are restricted to lower income households, Kersh says, think again.
"Obesity is blind to demographics," he notes. "Lower income, minority populations have a slightly higher BMIs across all different age groups but the rate of increase in obesity among all income groups is rising pretty constantly."
Although many higher-earning families wouldn't dream of dining at a McDonald's or Burger King, Kersh points out, higher-priced restaurants are often just as bad. "If you eat out a lot regardless of where you go, it's pretty much impossible to keep your weight down," he says.
Simply put, childhood obesity is a literally growing problem. Calorie postings and nutritional labeling aren't perfect solutions but at least they're a start. For the first time in U.S. history, scientists predict the average expected lifespan is lower for the youngest generation than for their parents. We simply can't let this toll continue to mount.
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