Monday, May 19, 2008

Childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes

Over the weekend, the Washington Post ran the first article in a series about the dangers of childhood obesity. Because part of this epidemic is the rising number of children with type 2 diabetes — a condition that used to only affect older adults — I thought the article deserved a mention in my blog.

The article does a great job of discussing all the ramifications of childhood obesity. Besides the numerous adult diseases appearing in overweight children (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and of course, type 2 diabetes), being obese during childhood appears to have a lasting impact on an individual's weight. Apparently childhood obesity creates a set point in the child's metabolism, because most overweight children grow up to be overweight adults.

When I was growing up, we rarely had soda, sugary snacks, or fast food. As I got older, and I became more influenced by my peers and by advertising, I remember thinking it was unfair that I didn't get more junk food when all my friends did. But looking back as an adult, I think my mom was exactly right: Soda and fast food appear to be two major contributors in childhood obesity.

While I have my mom to thank for the autoimmune gene (she has hyperthyroidism), I also have her to thank for my normal weight, fast metabolism, and conscientious eating habits. And I will definitely be following her example and restricting my kids' access to soda and fast food when I am a parent!

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