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The World Health Organization says childhood obesity is a growing epidemic and is not restricted to industrialized nations. In fact, the WHO reports the rate of increase is greater in developing countries than in the developed world.The U.S. is preparing a nationwide initiative against childhood obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama is leading it because she sees that obesity in this country is nothing less than a public health crisis.
One in three American children is overweight or obese, according to a report by the US Surgeon General. Obesity puts those children at risk for serious conditions.The first lady, Michelle Obama, said "its threatening our children, its threatening our families and, more importantly, its threatening the future of this nation."
Since 1980, the number of overweight American children has doubled and the number of overweight teenagers has tripled.Dr. Benjamin Caballero at Johns Hopkins University says childhood obesity is a key risk factor for chronic diseases, such as Type Two diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis.
Worldwide, about 22 million children under the age of five are estimated to be overweight. And for some, early undernourishment might explain it. There is ample evidence that being undernourished early on in life increases the risk of being obese, having diabetes or having cardiovascular disease in adult life. Feeding low-fat high fiber foods to children and getting them to exercise may not be enough to solve the problem.Modernization, and globalization, according to the WHO, are two factors contributing to the obesity epidemic.
In many developing countries, there is increased consumption of nutrient poor foods with high levels of sugar and saturated fat.
There is also a lack of information about what constitutes a good diet and a healthy lifestyle.
In the United States, Michelle Obama's initiative aims to educate the public.In the past, similar efforts -- especially against smoking -- have been effective.Dr. Caballero says Mrs. Obama should organize an international alliance of first ladies to fight childhood obesity around the world.