There is a diabetes obesity crisis.
The word “crisis” is increasingly used to define the obesity epidemic in the U.S.; nowhere is it more descriptive than with childhood obesity.
By now, the figures are well known:
•The percentage of overweight children has more than doubled, from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 15.3 percent in 2000.
•The percentage of overweight adolescents has tripled, from 5% in 1980 to 15.5% in 2000.
•About 2 million children between 12 and 19 have a pre-diabetic condition related to obesity and inactivity, placing them at risk for diabetes and cardiovascular trouble.
•Among children diabetics, most of whom suffer from juvenile-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes has increased from 4% to 25% in just 10 years.
•The percentage of Indiana high school students who are obese increased by 30% between 2003 and 2005.
The numbers are frightening for the life-threatening risks they represent, adding urgency to efforts to educate Americans about health issues related to obesity and lack of exercise. It’s an unfortunate necessity that schools play a major role in that effort – unfortunate because they already are staggering under a mound of mandates, a necessity because they are part of the problem.
One consequence of the emphasis on increased standards in schools has been a decline in physical education courses. In 1991, more than 40 percent of high school students participated in a daily physical education course. By 1999, it had declined to 29 percent. Middle-school phys ed courses also have declined, and – appallingly – some elementary schools have reduced or eliminated recess to allow more time for reading and math.
Another factor that can’t be discounted is the presence of candy and soda machines in schools. They might be a dependable source of revenue, but there’s a price attached as obesity rates increase.
Parents, policymakers, businesses and health care providers need to partner with schools to target the obesity epidemic. All had a part in creating the problem, and all must help in solving it.

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