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April 10th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Almost 20% of U.S. 4-year-olds obese

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to their health, some American children have already lost. A new study shows almost one in fibe four-year-olds is obese. It's a startling number that suggests many children are doomed before they're even faced with soda and candy, donuts and French fries.

And certain ethnic groups are at higher risk than others. Just 13 percent of Asian pre-schoolers are obese compared to 16 percent of whites, almost 21 percent of blacks, 22 percent of Hispanics and a whopping 31 percent of American Indians. This government study focused on more than 8,500 preschoolers born in 2001.

Researchers suggest that some factors that can increase obesity risks are more common among minorities - things like poverty, less-educated parents, less emphasis on exercise and diets high in fat and calories.

The medical prognosis is not good: Obese children are more likely to develop high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc. In fact, diseases commonly seen in 40 or 50-year-olds are now showing up in kids as young as six. Things like type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and muscular and skeletal problems.

What can parents do? Doctors recommend children eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, reduce television time down to two hours or less, exercise at least one hour, and consume no soda or sugary drinks. Fine - but with the number of obese adults in this country, it's not exactly like we're long on good role models.

Here's my question to you: What does the future hold for this nation's children if almost 20 percent of four-year-olds are obese?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Portia from Los Angeles writes:
It's not looking good, Jack! I work for a large non-profit organization dedicated to disease prevention, and let me tell you the number of overweight children is down-right frightening. If parents, the government, the education system, and the healthcare system don't start working collaboratively to combat this problem, we as Americans will literally "super size" our way to extinction.

Cori writes:
It's no wonder kids are obese, the cost of healthy food is outrageous. I can barely afford to buy healthy food for myself. And kids today are lazy. Who wants to exercise if you have cool video games, movies, and pizza to accompany you during your entertainment?

Kevin from Franklin, Tennessee writes:
Jack, People have got to take care of their children. Take away the Pop-Tarts, Fruit Roll-Ups, juice boxes, candy, McDonald's Happy Meals, everything. Let them embarrass you at the grocery store.

Linda writes:
I teach elementary school and "soda and candy, donuts and French fries" seem to be a part of most preschoolers' diets. Parents send children to school with a packed lunch including the four food groups: processed meat sandwich on white bread, salty snack, dessert and soda. Children often have snacks for breakfast and headaches by 10am. An ongoing massive public education effort is needed, the scarier the better.

Amanda writes:
How can we expect children to grow up to live healthy lives on their own if we as parents do not lead by example and start them off on the right foot? Schools need to play a much larger role in the introduction of healthy living to our children because it is obvious parents are not doing the job. Nutrition information and healthy school meals need to be put in place. Our society just can't say no to our children and that is our problem.


Filed under: United States
soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. Jess, Ohio

    An abundance of Cardiology clinics, Jack. They'll be the 'Wal-Mart' of outpatient clinics. Let's do the reversal role: Make healthy foods 'inexpensive' and make fast food 'expensive'.

    April 10, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  2. Kevin in Dallas, TX

    What our future should hold is the revival of true physical education in our schools. We did away with it and we all got fat. I don't care if it's not politically correct, not doing anything to take care of yourself should be shameful.

    April 10, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  3. Bobby Rice, Baltimore

    It means the dollar menu has taken over America's youth

    April 10, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  4. Jason, Koloa, HI

    I'm not sure what the future holds Jack, but I'd be scared if I was a twinkie.

    April 10, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  5. David Bebeau,Springfield Missouri

    Jack
    We eat what we are taught to eat...................education for all kids
    works for me and it worked for me decades ago.
    David

    April 10, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  6. Jane (Minnesota)

    A continuation of increased medical costs when these 4 year olds become adults – of course.

    Why is it that America cannot realize that a lot of the high health care costs are a direct result of people not watching their wieght & exercising. The "Couch Potato Society" has got to stop. Seeing this many 4 year olds is very troubling. Americans need to wake up – soon!

    April 10, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  7. Lisa in Ga

    Jack, the future holds a bunch of fat people and the next generation and the next generation and the next generation and so on........each generation will "literally" get BIGGER AND BIGGER!

    April 10, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  8. Ann from Hampton, New Jersey

    Parents should stop taking these children to fast food restaurants and giving them "treats".. Be home to cook them nutritious meals like our parents did. Get them off the couch and in front of the computer and keep them active outdoors. I am a senior citizen and we did not have this situation in my day. We were out playing and a "treat" was just that.

    April 10, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  9. Barbara

    I work in a hospital. You would think people who work in Healthcare, especially in Surgery, they would eat healthy. Not so. Sadly, I'm not sure any of the food we eat is actually food. I'm allergic to soy, gelatin, calcium, eggs, and the list goes on. One grocery store in my area I am not able to eat their meat. The prepared foods have so many ingredients in them - if the list contains more than 60 ingredients, the rule of thumb is DON'T EAT IT. Most of our food is genetically engineered...What even happended to the FDA and Agriculture deprtment? Shouldn't they be policing our food supply.

    Virginia Beach, VA

    April 10, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  10. Nancy, Grand Ledge,MI

    Did you ever hear of baby fat? I have known many many fat children who slimmed down to toothpicks as they grew!

    April 10, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  11. Lama, Boston

    You can find the story of our future in the movie Wall-E

    April 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  12. Portia, Los Angeles CA

    It's not looking good Jack! I work for a large non-profit organization dedicated to disease prevention, and let me tell you the number of overweight children is down-right frightening. If parents, the government, the education system, and the healthcare system don't start working collaboratively to combat this problem, we as Americans will literally "super size" our way to extinction.

    April 10, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  13. Star Auburn Ohio

    ban happy meals

    April 10, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  14. Paulette,Dallas,PA

    Huge medical bills and a shortage of medical professionals to treat the aging Baby Boomers and the health crisis from obesity in young people.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  15. Terry ,"The Hoosier Hillbilly" Greensburg, IN

    Jack–and the older they get 'the bigger' [more obese] they get. Just look around [how round ] the round world is getting.
    kids, parents, and some younger grandparents have no idea why this is happening and they won't listen to those of us that are old and ! -WISE!
    Obama will have an answer-his kids aren't fat. You thought I meant the President – NO! – his wife.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  16. David in San Diego

    It means more than 20% of adults will be obese. I think we might be there already, except of the Left Coast, where people have much healthier shaped bodies. And it isn't all cosmetic surgery.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  17. David, Natchez MS

    If we are ever invaded by aliens from outerspace that have a taste for humans it will take fewer of us to fill them up.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  18. Marie Ontario

    The fact is there will be some children who by no fault of their own will be obese but these will be few and far between.

    The majority of obesity in children is basically created through child abuse albiet a lesser form than that is generally brought to mind by this term. Parents who abandon their obligations of properly feeding and teaching their children how to look after themselves are in fact not fulfilling their parental obligations to those children.

    The futures of these obese children will be one of many medical problems and continual struggle with weight for as long as they live and which in many cases will be significantly less than it should have been.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  19. Gigi in Alabama

    Unless parents start teaching their children to eat meals that are balanced and stop filling them up with "Happy Meals", these kids will grow up with all kinds of medical problems. I was brought up before the advent of fast food. We had a few hamburger joints, but when we were allowed to eat there it was a treat, not an everyday event.
    If we think our health care costs are bad now, just wait until these kids are in their 30' and 40's.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  20. Scott, Wichita

    Well, I'm sure that the guilty parents will blame this on video games and inactivity. Not true. It is the parents' fault for letting their kids eat whatever they want, and for being too lazy to cook them a decent meal. Instead of bringing them to McDonald's, why not try cooking them something yourself. Not a frozen pizza, but maybe make one yourself. Not only will the kids have fun, but you can make it a lot healthier than the store does.

    Parents: You have no one to blame but yourselves. My parents understood this, and none of me or my two brothers are overweight.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  21. Tina Tx

    It means that kids are not safe to go out and play like in my time which is a crying shame. They sit and watch tv or play on either the computer or a video again for hours and not getting up playing and using their little minds and their imaginations.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  22. Mike - Hot Springs, Arkansas

    Well it indicates that the advertising media has done a good job. We will have fewer problems with excess population as these kids will most likely not make it to an old age. Any parent who allows their 4 year old to become obese is clearly negligent. Of course when I was 4 I was a poor boy living on the farm and there were not that many sweets and other bad foods available and also I was very active.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  23. Donna Wisconsin

    We already know obesity is way on the rise and with it all the health hazards that come with the wrong diet. Some how we need to change behavior and the cost of food. Cheap food should be fruits and vegetables and exspensive should be french fries and candy. Poor folks think cheap white bread and sugar laden cereal is at least food in their kids belly but all it does is create sick kids.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  24. JD in NH

    The adults in this society need to wake up . . . and not necessarily to the smell of hot toaster pastries. Between parents who don't bother to provide nutritious foods to their children and the presence of corn syrup in virtually every product, it's no wonder little kids are turning into porkers. Throw in computer games in lieu of baseball and there's no way little Jimmy won't be shopping in the "special" clothes department. It's very sad. A lifetime of good eating and exercise needs to start from day one.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  25. Charlie in Belen, New Mexico

    Come down to this neck of the woods Jack and visit the local Wal-Mart, you will see that the "obese" percentages for the entire population is 90+%.....

    April 10, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  26. David,San Bernardino,CA.

    Does the movie WALL-E now look like the future of the Earth?

    April 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  27. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: If you trying to say that the future of this nation is dependent on 20% of four year olds being obese-your are mistaken. Some children are born obese-–others have to work to get there--but maybe these 20% will be viewed as the "fat cats" of the future. Two parents working--no one is cooking--it is fast times at RIdgemount High again. The future of this nation is not in the hands of four year-olds obese children--it is in the hands of the annoreia Congress-–

    April 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  28. Larry, Ohio

    Jack,there are going to be alot of people going to their maker a lot sooner than planned,obesity causes a multitude of health problems,high blood pressure,diabetas,and heart disease.It's really pretty simple,stay away from Popeye's Chicken and McDonalds or enter the Pearly Gates before appointment time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  29. Barbara, Texas

    Mother's today don't feed their kids as they did years ago. They won't insist the children eat healthy. They need to STOP constantly feeding them fast food and junk food... Start cooking decent healthy meals again. MAKE THE TIME!!! I worked full time and cook a hot meal every night for my kids...going to McDonald's was a treat they might get once a month. They had meat/chicken, vegetables and potatoes almost every night. Now and then I would fix hamburgers and chips. STOP LETTING THE KIDS DECIDE WHAT THEY WANT TO EAT...PARENTS SHOULD TELL THEM WHAT THEY WILL EAT.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  30. Richard McKinney, Texas

    Perhaps a change in the economy is what it will take to get kids to lean down. If you can not afford food or electricity to play video games or watch TV or play on the computer it may just give parents the incentive to boot their little bundle of joys back sides out the door and say go play. It probably wouldn't hurt some of these parents to do the same.
    What ever happened to kids playing outside with other kids? We use to play all day and then slide into home at dark for supper not spending a dime all day. No cell phones, no ipods, no computers, no text messaging just good old fun in the sun. Of course we were all a lot thinner back then too.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  31. David Alexandria, VA

    Huge medical bills - beyond even those in Obama's bloated plan.

    If we can't get obese people educated and taking care of themselves, even morbidly obese government programs won't be able to do it for them. That is one of the problems with an entitlement-based society - some people get to feeling that the government can take care of everything.

    When we start to dabble with finacial means testing for medicare and social security, maybe we should start to consider self-help means testing for government-supported medical care. "You don't take care of yourself, we won't either!"

    As one of the 3% who will be paying for the President's health care program, I will work my tail off to vote out of office any representaitve of mine who votes for a bill which does not include enforcable self-managed preventaive health provisions - and that goes for the Big Guy as well.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  32. John from Alabama

    Jack: Education of all God's people are required for the obesity epicmedic to slow down in children. All food products need to be labeled with fat and calorie contents, fast food should have healthy meals not just happy meals. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be made available for all income groups, and vegetable gardens should be fostered. It starts with parents who truly love their children in the present and future.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  33. Liz in Los Angeles, CA

    If they're obese at 4, there's a good chance they'll be obese throughout their lives. What this country will have on its hands is a ginormous health care crisis centered around diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

    April 10, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  34. Daniel Indiana

    It isn't good. Let's look at what the corporations put out for people to eat and there should be no wonder why so many are obese. Look at all of the sugar and fats that are added to the otherwise overly processed foods. To top it off, let's make parents busier that they already are so that they will resort to even more fast foods, be they ordering out or preparing the next "convenient", prepackaged meal. We are getting what many have demanded, excepting a "cure" in a pill. It is a "cure" in a pill, but the wrong one in many respects.

    April 10, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  35. Annie, Atlanta

    If they're fat at 4, you can bet most will battle with weight the rest of their lives. I have 2 sons, and can't imagine ever handing them that kind of life sentence.

    April 10, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  36. John from Knoxville, TN

    Jack, if we don't make changes, we are going to see a health crisis of biblical proportions in about 20 years. Just when aging baby boomers will be needing more medical care, doctor's offices are also going to be crowded with 20-somethings.

    April 10, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  37. Jim from Chicago

    Jack, it is not the kids' fault. Parents overindulge their children with soft drinks, junk food and processed foods. These parents are either clueless about good nutrition or wise parenting. Good heavens - obese four-year olds!

    April 10, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  38. George, Dunedin, Florida

    The problem didn't start with these children eating too much, it started when the parents of these children didn't care enough about their child's well-being to have ever let it get to this point. The same goes for other types of dicipline problems. It has become way too convienent for these parents to blame the food industries, but it is their own responsibility to take care of their child. I feel as though I have a right to speak about this because I have five grown children, and none of them have an ounce of fat on them. Please take as much interest in your child's life, as your automobile. You wouldn't think about overfilling it with gasoline, or oil, and you always keep your tires aired. What is the most important to you?

    April 10, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  39. Dan, Chantilly VA

    A fatter population means a reduced average life span which helps with your last question. Now if we can just get our 4 year olds to start smoking and drinking, we'll be on the path to negative growth.

    April 10, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  40. nora CC TXAS

    I have 2 four year old grandchildren. They are both quite slim. One eats lots of fruit, the other one loves sweets and is not much on vegetables. The thing they both have in common is that they are very active, running and jumping playing and staying very busy. I think that is what people need to do. Not all kids love fruits and vegetables but most kids love to run and play and that helps keep them skinny. You can't park them in front of the TV and then wonder why they get obese if they do. Keep them active that will do it.

    April 10, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  41. Dave, Brooklyn, NY

    A short life with little quality and a lot of humiliation.

    April 10, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  42. Dennis North Carolina

    We the people are the blame or should I say our smart leaders have led us down the wrong path. we do not need to waste money on studies about the subject because you can see it your self if you open your eyes. The way of life has changed because our leaders are too busy taking care of themselves instead of the people. Poverty and lack of education play only a very small part in this subject, It is the style of life that we the people have excepted for our children. I could give the cure but people would say I am crazy.

    April 10, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  43. RD Kansas City

    Jack I worked 25 years on the fire department, and I can honestly say that if you see an obese child you will find either an obese parent or parents, ghetto fabulous mother or trailor trash.They don't care for themselves so the kids are doomed to fail.

    April 10, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  44. Alex in Seattle

    The future holds additional stress on our already limited health care capabilities. And since it is the poor who are mostly obese, the run on our nations emergency rooms by those unable to pay will continue to increase. Not to mention increases in disability payments to, for example, diabetic amputees in their 20s!

    April 10, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  45. Harry Lime

    The future of our collective health is bleak. There is a huge increase in diabetes occurring, and all the health problems that happen with that. The obesity problem is not simply our use of junk food. There is a genetic factor at work here, and we are becoming too fat in our DNA.
    Harry
    Tampa, FL

    April 10, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  46. Elaine

    If there are so many obese people, soneone forgot to tell the clothing industry. When you go shopping and look at the racks of clothes that are size 0, l,3 or 5, its no wonder that the stores aren't selling any clothes. Then if your an overweight senior they think that you should wear pants that the waist is down around your hips and tops look like maternity tops. Then store wonder why no one is buying and sales are down.

    April 10, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  47. Gigi

    It's truly sad.. My husband and I take care of our great grand kids a girl 2 and a boy 41/2 they eat more sugar than their grandparents (our kids) did in a day than our children did in two weeks. They are hipper, loud and cry more. They want juice instead of water. Won't even try oatmeal or dry cereal. It's not their fault it's their parents life style. I try to give them good food but they are at the age they refuse to try . My youngest daughter told me they have a no thank you bite at their house. They have to politely try one bite then they can be excused. Who says great grandparents can't learn new tricks. We just started this new idea this very week. They are well loved and I believe it's the sugar and fat in there diet. Parents give them to much to eat also. The size of there fist enough food for there stomach. I have seen so much money wasted on happy meals because they don't eat or need that much food. They are going to grow up with many health problems.

    April 10, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  48. Jerry - Toronto

    Unfortunately the cheapest food items are the highest in sugar and fat. If this trend continues then the medical system will be overwhelmed to the point where people will spend more time on sick leave than at work.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  49. Susan From Twin Falls Idaho

    Maybe obesity should be considered child abuse. It’s life threatening and shows lack of good parenting.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  50. Karen - Nashville TN

    The future for these unfortunate children is frightening. Parents must stop equating chubby with cute, and learn how to look out for their kids in a sedentary, fast-food world.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  51. Chryssa

    There are two sides to this problem. First, education is still lacking and healthy food is still too expensive.

    Second, certain races that are predisposed to being obese are less likely to procreate outside their race, usually for cultural reasons, ensuring that no new genes come into the mix to mitigate their genetic health risks. I don't see an end in sight.

    Boise, ID

    April 10, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  52. Lynn, Columbia, Mo..

    I was pudgey as a child and grew out of it when I became a teenager and discovered boys. What does the future hold for anorexic and bulemic kids? We put too much emphasis on Barbie and Ken doll images, but I do agree that we should feed them healthy foods and put exercise back in schools.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  53. Irv Lilley

    Jack, If parents are'nt willing to carefully teach their children to
    eat healthy, there's not much anybody else can do. Parents setting
    the example to eat healthy is the best answer to the roblem.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  54. Ron from SF

    It's not good and sadly for these kids, their memories aren't going to be as good as my generation had. I used to go out after school or on weekends and know that there was nothing to pull me inside except the idea of missing dinner. Today kids can't go out alone because of sexual low life's who prey on them or nagging mothers who call their cell phones. My fondest memories are of going out alone, meeting up with other kids and swimming, playing football, baseball or even Kick The Can. Kick The Can, how memorable. Does anyone under 40 even know what that is?

    April 10, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  55. Angela, Kentucky

    Wow, what a depressing statistic. The future for this nation's children looks pretty sad with a much diminished life due to serious health problems. Health reform better include alot of grass roots educating!

    Our family was very poor, but, I guess we were lucky because it was before 24/7 television and computers. If you weren't home in time for dinner, guess what, you didn't eat. I didn't know what "left overs" meant until I was out of high school. We couldn't afford to spend money on candy or sodas or any junk food. Plus we didn't have access to fast food chains. No matter the weather we were usually out doors playing with friends at softball or tag and in winter we were ice skating or sledding.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  56. Willow, Iowa

    There will either be a major turnaround in weight and obesity, or we will begin dying younger and younger. Cancer and heart problems will no longer be the biggest causes of death. We got our average age of death way up there, and now we are squandering it all on fatty foods.

    Hopefully there will be a big change in how people want to live and it will be in vogue to be thinner and healthier.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  57. Linda in Arizona

    A lot of waddling, sick adults putting an unsustainable strain on health care costs. It's sad for the children. They are losing their childhood.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  58. James, Charlotte, NC

    More debt for adding gyms and personal trainers to their priorities!

    April 10, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  59. Norah

    There weren't too many obese kids back when I was a nipper (in the 50s); now they're everywhere. For sure, my brother and I ate our share of junk food but we burned it off by running around, riding our bikes everywhere, playing sandlot ball and other sports and games. Kids today are slugs. They're either glued to the computer, the video games, or the TV. They do have mad texting skills, however, with fabulous muscle tone in their thumbs. But an eight year old with a spare tire is a sad sight indeed. I see a generation of sick and flabby individuals coming up behind me.

    Norah
    Ocala, FL

    April 10, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  60. Anne

    I hate to say it but it may be balancing element that helps control overpopulation. It's not that I think that this would be a good thing but obesity is so unhealthy that of course it often means early death. It's a sign of emotional issues that are not being adressed. When someone overeats they do not do it out of hunger or because they want to be fat. If we look at the source of obesity, we are much more likely to solve the problem.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  61. Louise in Alabama

    As long as McDonalds shows the highest stocks results for one year who cares. America invests in money. Using children. AIG sure did not care about obesity in children. But they had to increase their pant sizes. America only complains when they do not what is going on with their money. And cannot buy that "happy meal".

    April 10, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  62. Sandy in Arkansas

    The future holds lots of ridicule and prejudice for these children besides any health issues. As a society we are getting bigger, but the stigma and disparity in opportunities for overweight people just seems to grow, also. Maybe if 50% become obese then there will be a majority of people who want to do more to work on causes and cures and more who understand how damaging obesity is to a person's self-esteem as well as their health.

    Sandy
    Arkansas

    April 10, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  63. Ken in NC

    I don't know what to do about that 20% but looking at those cupcakes makes me wish I was 4 years old again.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  64. Jay in Texas

    Well, Jack, the answer to this question may also be the answer to your previous question about what to do about overpopulation. Obese people are at much greater risk of dying at a younger age as they are opening themselves up for a variety of deadly diseases including coronary disease. The actions of parents hold the solution to this terrible problem. It is the parents' responsibility to set the standards by living a healthy lifestyle themselves. There are many steps that need to be taken by the parents to ensure that their kids grow up healthy and happy. As well as serving healthy foods in the home, parents should make certain their schools are serving healthy food to their children. They should also demand that schools return to a policy of required physical education classes for all children. Exercise is key to solving the obesity problem so families should set aside a few hours every week for family outings to walk a few miles at a public park, hiking in the mountains, playing tennis or basketball. After such family activities, take the kids straight home! No stopping at a fast-food joint to fill up on greasy, unhealthy food.
    Brownwood, Texas

    April 10, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  65. Jim S Gardendale, Alabama

    50 years ago, we didn't have the fast food restaurants that we have now AND our schools served nutritious meals rather than junk food. Matter of fact, we didn't have as many resraurants period then, and families tended to gather for their meals at the family table. With so many women in the work force now and the rising divorce rate, women don't cook much anymore. When you add to that the fact that children stay inside more playing video games of watching television rather than playing outdoors, it's a deadly combination. Many parents stock junk food at home as well, which just adds to the problem. A great deal of things need to be changed in this country if this problem is addressed in a serious way. It should start at home and in the schools.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  66. Mike in Akron, OH

    The mere fact we recognize it, discuss it, and are taking proactive measures, shows the future holds promise.

    Thank you Dr. Gupta

    April 10, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  67. Alan - Buxton, Maine

    We are in the throes of a self inflicted epidemic which there is little chance of changing anytime soon. The fast food restaurants are not going to close down and with both parents working (when there are jobs to be had) healthy home cooked meals are few and far between.
    What I cannot understand is that we continue on this insane course even knowing what the results will be. Perhaps killing ourselves off with our foolish eating habits will solve the overpopulation problem you talked about last hour.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  68. Antoine in Plant City, FL

    Our kids will suffer. Insurance is going to try and rob them. This is not a medical problem alone. It's a class/race problem. Look at the racial demographics you mentioned, and then look at who's poor in this country. Eating healthy is expensive ($1 menu at McDonald's vs a salmon fillet). Low income forces people to buy low-quality foods. No one CHOOSES to be obese. There's also the isssue of proximity. Large grocery stores with healthy foods are located in middle- & upper-class neighborhoods. Solution: give people liveable wages!!

    April 10, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  69. Dorothy J. Martin

    Columbus, Ohio

    Simple! Do a "cap and trade" deal with junk food. Collect a hefty point of sale tax going to fund medicaid. Obesity raises the cost of medical care even more than cigarettes do. We already accept paying cigarette tax. It's not such a jump to extrapolate to killer food.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  70. Anthony ...NJ

    Jack, when I was a child a half-century ago, there was no such thing as computers, I-pods, cell phones and other such distractions. There was sandlot baseball, huge patches of wilderness to explore, and a wonderful Huckeberry Finn lifestyle where none of us were sedentary.
    Children, today, are more into social networking and gaming, sitting for hours with their virtual friends. They're not climbing trees, bicycling, playing baseball and exploring like we did. We couldn't wait to go outside, these kids can't wait to go to their rooms!

    April 10, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  71. Paul S. Columbia, SC

    Think of your last question, Jack. The overpopulation will cure the over weight problems via food shortages. The less there will be to eat the slimmer everyone will be. We humans are our own worst enemy.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  72. Lance Schumacher

    Jack, this is a crazy question! So what? 80% of the 4 year olds in Africa and other 3rd world nations are not obese. Who is better off? This country still has the best longevity ratios of any country in the world, and they continue to increase the life expectancy for our citizens. They will work this issue the same as they work out other health/quality of life issues in this nation and we will adapt or die. See your next blog question about the increasing population of the world.
    Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    April 10, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  73. David, Tampa, Fl

    Obese four to five year olds mean 40% obesity in an adult population. Medical insurance costs will continue to skyrocket. Unless, droughts continue, the icecaps melt and our food supply shrinks then obesity and overpopulation will take care of themselves. The only people that will be doing okay are medical professionals and morticians.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  74. BigD Northern Minnesota Freedom Fighters

    Jack, Our Doctors + Scientists Really Need to Find More About the Number of Fat Cells We are Born With. Hopefully "Stem-Cell" Research will Unlock the Generic Secret to this "Growing Dilemma!

    The Future Hopefully Holds for a Fast-Food Restaurant to Be On Virtually Every Corner Corner in Relation to Population Across this Great Nation of Ours!

    April 10, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  75. Ann,Virginia

    Jack,Parents today are too lazy to take the time to cook a healthy home cooked meal.It's much easier to stop by a fast food joint & pu all kinds of fattening,artery clogging,heart stopping lip smaking food.That's why we have so many fat kids

    April 10, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  76. chris

    nothing you can't judge by just that they are 4 years old let kids do what parents ;let them do there should be no policing of what they shoudl be told what to eat or drink or how they spend their free time you cn't judge what they will look like at 4 you need to wait a lot longer to see

    April 10, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  77. Dakota States

    The future might hold the need for increased children's healthcare, as well as an increase in parental responsibility after the parents panic after their child ends up having a heart attack before he or she reaches puberty.

    Stillwater, Oklahoma

    April 10, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  78. Denise D. (Montréal)

    Universal healthcare and good parenting won't be a choice but an obligation. McDonald and Pizza Hutt must pay their part as well as irresponsible parents who should pay a special tax on every garbage they buy.

    April 10, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  79. Ronald Holst

    Well Jack from your last question this is easy. let them drink Soda POP

    April 10, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  80. LUCY - ILLINOIS

    The future for Children isn't good. They are taught to clean their plates, as we were too.
    Get rid of growth hormone in all foods such as milk, meat, etc. that is pushed at children.
    What are the Children to do, they have to eat?
    They have to have better role models.

    April 10, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  81. Jeff in Glen Carbon IL

    Their future is pain, unhappiness, depression, increased suicide, early death, heart disease, diabetes, an even MORE expensive health plan, and a generation angry at its parents for permitting them to get that way.

    April 10, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  82. Michael and Diane Phoenix AZ

    Well, duh! Look at the lack of exercise the parents of most of these 4 year olds, and older don't do. Look at the lack of good diets...You don't have to go on a diet to have good health...exercise, eating properly and in moderation is the KEY folks! But of course places like McDonalds, other so-called fast food chains KEEP pushing their "new" higher calorie and carbohydrate food off on the population. Once PE disappeared from the schools our kids went downhill really fast. Quick, Jack, where can we get a quadruple qtr pounder with double cheese, bacon and onion rings......welcome to "BYPASS city."

    April 10, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  83. C. MacLean, RN Helena, MT

    1) Time to take food commercials off TV, just as we took liquor and cigarette commercials off TV – because they are a significant public health problem. (Prescription drugs ads should come off, too, same reason).

    2) Need to re-instate daily recess and daily PE in our schools. Kids learn better after they exercise, because it is easier for them to sit still, and if they exercised as a group, the behavior would become automatic.

    3) As adults, we need to be better role models – turn off the TV, (even you, Jack) and spend more time with our kids outdoors.

    April 10, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  84. Doreen Suran RN, Bellevue, WA

    Limited mobility, limited prospects, high health costs, dependency, and early death. Parents turn off the TV and vido games, get moving, eat small regular meals, stop the junk and processed foods, get regular sleep and stop defending your actions by stating, "they are just big boned". No, your kids are fat and you are sentencing them to a life of problems.

    April 10, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  85. Jim

    Jack,

    You had another question asking what to do about the overpopulation problem. Obese kids grow up to become obese adults who die young. Next problem?

    Jim
    Reno, Nevada

    April 10, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  86. keith m. ky.

    lowered quality of life,higher health care cost for everyone.Maybe we should charge by the pound for health care,we should definantly charge the parents with child abuse.

    April 10, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  87. Julia, Newton NJ

    Jack, let's be perfectly honest here. It's hard to live a 100 percent healthy lifestyle, especially in today's rushed atmosphere. It's up to parents to take responsibility, take that chance and change THEIR living habits first, then teach their children the benefits of eating healthy and doing something in gym class, besides standing around texting. (Which I regret is what I did... LOL)

    April 10, 2009 at 5:56 pm |
  88. Lynda, NC

    how about enact that twinkie tax everyoone likes to make fun of? if we tax junk foods with no real nutritional value, the socio-economically poorer people will be forced to buy healthier foods because they can't afford the junk. eventually the trend will turn around, but remember – what took generations to create will take generations to un-make.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:03 pm |
  89. Betty, San Diego, Ca.

    Children are not born obese. They get help from their parents. Obesity is a family problem and treatment should involve all family members. If not treated, what we can look forward to are morbidly obese adults with very short life spans.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
  90. Steve - Mich

    Hold Parents accountable.

    Limit Cartoons during the day.

    Make pediatricians more accountable and have both them and insurance companies require nutrician classes on diet and excersize.

    Tax snack foods that are high in fat and chemicals.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  91. Levi Mburu

    Why can't the government introduce a mandatory nutrition & hygiene course in schools?

    April 10, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  92. Judith Haden

    A high divorce rate yields women who work and don't know how to cook. Dropping home economics and language requirements from high schools creates a double-whammy for uneducated women; they don't know from bologna how to feed themselves or their families and turn instead to pre-cooked food filled with corn fructose and they get fat kids. We need to start teaching nutrition and life skills again in high schools to reeducated an entire generation of no-can-do's.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  93. george

    it means we will be out sourcing the miltary because no one will be able to move........ well maybe not.......but if you think health care cost 's are high now just give it twenty years.
    george
    chester,ct.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  94. Catherine

    Jack, does it ever occur to ANYONE that the problem might be the quantity of genetically modified foods and chemicals in the American food supply, rather than bad food behavior? Why don't you do a story on that, or are you afraid of Monsanto and Conagra like everyone else?

    April 10, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  95. Cordale Johnson

    This will cause America a lot of problems in the future. In order to prevent these problems there should be more recess time for these young kids and classes to teach awareness. It's will be a scary thought to see a "fat" America.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  96. temmy dizzle

    It shows that America is fast recovering from the economic recession. By the time America fully recovers from the recession, everybody will be obese

    April 10, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  97. Tim

    Jack – Do a comparison on this group as opposed to smokers...smokers are taxed accordingly – I think we should tax french fries, ice cream and all other fatty foods! – Tim

    April 10, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  98. Mike c. Iowa

    Tv, computers, and lazy parents are to blame. Moo moo

    April 10, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  99. Ryan O. from Houston,TX

    There's not much to say about the issue besides what is obvious. We can expect to see a significantly more unhealthy generation of Americans come to pass. Hopefully the poor quality of life people who have become obese have will prove to be an effective deterrent for future generations.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  100. Chang

    If our children continue to become obese and refuse to exercise and and eat fatty foods,there will be a rise in insurance costs,and probably a drop in the average lifespan of the American Citizen.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  101. Gregg Allen

    I suggest long term investments in gym and fitness stocks.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  102. Amanda

    How can we expect children to grow up to live healthy lives on their own if we as parents do not lead by example and start them off on the right foot? Schools need to play a much larger role in the introduction of healthy living to our children because it is obvious parents are not doing the job. Nutrition information and healthy school meals need to be put in place. Our society just can't say no to our children and that is our problem.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  103. Michel Cloutier

    I find it offensive when people invoke poverty as an excuse for having obese kids. Snacks, sodas are often more expensive than healthier alternatives, and kids can exercise for free. How about substituting 'dumb, fat, lazy parents' for 'poor parents'. That would be more accurate.

    M.Cloutier Kingston Ontario, Canada

    April 10, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  104. Christopher Dudley

    Nothing good. Due to inflation fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to afford compared to a Big Mac. This means the percent of obese children will grow. Also when kids are young kids develop a taste for what they eat. When kids eat junk food they're developing a life long habit.
    Denver, CO

    April 10, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  105. Carol in Phoenix

    Jack,
    Yes the food is a problem....but kids today are not safe going outside to play, walking to the local park or skipping two houses away from home. This problem has lead to more kids sitting in front of the TV and the computer. If our kids were once again safe to be outside I think we would see major changes in our kids and this over weight issue. I'm an adult and I don't feel safe walking in my neighborhood.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  106. nath

    Jack,
    We have great power to blame others for all our personal mistakes.
    Over eating is no exception
    We have heart to blame depression, government policies, society, etc.
    Only 2% are genetically disposed for obesity.
    All the rest of 80% is only because of over eating.
    No body can inform other to eat proper and in moderation.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  107. Wendy

    When the parents are eating unhealthy, what else is the child to do but follow those same habits. In order for us to fight this problem we have to target ways to fix the way of thinking within our parents first and then it will trickle down positively.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  108. Bernadette Loesch

    Dear Jack, Why wasn't something done when we watched the people from LA being airlifted and sent to the stadium. It was very evident then that most of those folks were very, very obese. They were the people coming out of the poorer areas in and around New Orleans. Our govenment officials should have been doing something about obesity years and years ago, but instead the Republicans administrations were only interested in investing and funding war and destruction against other countries. The Republican administrations have handed over one colossal mess on all fronts. Pres. Obama is trying to make a dent in that mess, but God he is not!

    April 10, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  109. Penny from Ohio

    Simple. A socialized, universal health care system forced upon us by Obama which will be overburdened by these obese pre-schoolers. A lot of Americans believe that a socialized system would be better...until they themselves want an MRI, EKG, etc. Something that might takes months to obtain under a universal system that will be very, very expensive for all Americans. But at least those 4 year old pre schoolers will be taken care of.....for life??? I believe Obama calls this collectivism....I call it something else!!

    April 10, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  110. Mitch from Saint Louis

    Same answer as last hour. Make sure your cell phone is charged before we go extinct.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  111. Monica

    There are so many obese children now because more and more of American children's parents are on food stamps and they use those to buy cheap, unhealthy food, such as sodas, cookies, candy, chips etc. If we revamped the food stamp program to only pay for "food" and not junk, we would see a big decline in obese children and adults. There are more young adults and middle class on food stamps than ever before and whats really sad is they aren't ashamed of living or eating off the government and do not quite obviously do not promote good work ethics or exercise and good health. I understand lose of job, not being able to feed your children been there done that, but come on. To stay on food stamps FOREVER?

    April 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  112. Kat

    With the current economy there isn't a very bright future for our kids or adults for that matter. With so many people out of work and on public assistance it's virtually impossible to buy fresh fruits and vegetables or anything else healthy. Food stamp benefits only go so far. If the government truly wanted to do something positive they would make healthy foods affordable and make the junk food out of reach. Give people tax incentives to plant their own gardens. It will not only improve our health but our healthcare industry as well.

    Kat in Ohio

    April 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  113. Cori

    It's no wonder kids are obese, the cost of healthy food is outrageous. I can barely afford to buy healthy food for myself.

    A second problem is the education of nutrition. Many young adults are having children, and barely have a high school education, therefore, they aren't teaching good habits.

    Third, kids today are lazy. Who wants to exercise if you have cool video games, movies, and pizza to accompany you during your entertainment?

    Our technology is hurting kids today, and I don't see the problem going away any time soon.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  114. Shel

    Was income included in the study of these 4yr olds? It costs more to eat healthy. When a family is trying to feed everyone at the table, lower income families will eat less heathy food thus leading to more obesity.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  115. William Westermeyer

    What does it mean for the country? It means poverty continues to be ignored in this country. the most at risk ethnic groups shown are the also the poorest. If you can't afford good food, you don't buy it. If you live in a food desert, you eat fast food. If both your parents have to work two jobs, you don't get excercise.

    Bill, Chapel Hill, NC

    April 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  116. Iain M. Guthrie

    One factor will be an absence of adequate medical care. Take for example Radiography; currently, all equipment is designed for a "normal" body – as the size of the patient increases, the equipment becomes less effective. This is not the fault of the equipment or the professionals using it, but merely the fact that the laws of physics do have limits. The same is true for the effectiveness of almost all medications. Simply put, as the incidence of obesity increases, so does mortality at a younger age (e.g. Darwinism in action).

    April 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  117. Larry Dickerson

    This is a topic that needs to be discussed every night. Adults must take more responsibility for the way we have influenced our youth over the last several decades. We (western) culture are nothing short of glutonous. Fast food, value meals, super sized portions, buffet meals,...it's no wonder kids grow up overweight! They're not feeding themselves – we are feeding them – or at least not encouraging and/or modeling balanced choices and exercise enough. People complain about our healthcare system and the costs associated with it, but neglect to really get into the root causes of poor health. Diet, lack of exercise, etc. We need to stop putting "bandaids" on our problems and make serious changes in our lives in order to improve overall wellbeing.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  118. Tony IL

    Jack,
    I can say for a fact that my 4 yr old son isn't obese. He is an active little 4 yr old and I as a parent tries to give him and our other kids a nutrional meals. Not all kids like every vegetable but we give our kids the veggies that they will eat. Parents are ultimately responsible for their kids health. Just because we as parents are busy with work doesn't mean that we should just run to the local fast food joint for dinner and sit the kids in front of the television as a source of a babysitter while we sit at the computer blogging on myspace, facebook, twitter and the cafferty files.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  119. Jo

    Much of the obesity epicdemic can be linked to the increased use of corn syrup, which the body metobalizes differently than regular sugar. The increased use of corn syrup parallels the rise in obesity. We don't hear anything about this, though. Why not?

    Jo
    Corsicana, TX

    April 10, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  120. Andrew in Pinehurst

    Lazy parents are to blame for this problem. They will not help resolve the problem without assistance. Physical Education and health education classes should be required daily in public schools, as they were 40 years ago. Physical education has become less important as budgets tighten and systems look for areas to cut costs. However, if there is one thing our educational systems should do for our youth, it is to help insure their physical health. Healthy kids are better able to learn and are more likely to teach their children, when they become adults, better nutritional habits.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  121. Gregg Allen

    I'm not sure, but your story just made me incredibly hungry for a huge, double cheeseburger, a large coke, and fries! Thanks a lot!

    Gregg Allen
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    April 10, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  122. Jeff Chrumka

    Jack,

    I fail to understand how poverty increases a 4 year old's obesity factor. Shouldn't less money mean less money for being fat? It costs money to be overwieght doesn't it?

    When I was a kid, none of the kids were fat! Less than 30 years ago too I might add. Perhaps 1 out of the 500 I went to school with were. Why is that? Our parents wouldn't let us sit on our asses for 5 hours a day watching bad TV. Further to that, we played sports. All of them. Hockey, baseball, football, jogging... there was always a game of something happening. It is a simple choice, teach them to be active when they are young and it will stay with them. Let them be couch potatoes and that will stay with them as well. Rocket science!

    Today's junk culture has kids missing what is im portant in life. TV is not. In fact, in TV were eliminated, I am sure the number of fat slobs out there would decrease drastically and immediately.

    Jeff Chrumka

    April 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  123. Jeff Crocket

    Inner city kids are kept inside, because of danger, and suburban children because of danger in kidnapping! This whole nation is berserk with fear. Let kids go out and play – Run, play ball, skin their knees. We have so encapsulated children they can't do anything but sit safely in fron of a tv. No recess at school because of law suits! Or, Union teachers saying "not my job". No gym class in secondary schools for same issues! The fearful nanny state with all this PC and law suite hysteria is killing society!

    STOP IT

    Jeff in New Britain, CT

    April 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  124. Antonio Guadix, Granada, Spain

    Unfortunately, in Europe we are following the same dangerous way. Sugar-rich refreshments, pizza, hamburgers and donuts are just loved by kids and parents just supply them without control.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  125. Linda Cherry

    I teach elementary school and "soda and candy, donuts and French fries" seem to be a part of most pre-schoolers' diets. Parents send children to school with a packed lunch including the four food groups: processed meat sandwich on white bread, salty snack, dessert and soda. Children often have snacks for breakfast and headaches by 10am. A ongoing massive public education effort is needed, the scarier the better.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  126. Amy in Indiana

    When our FDA decides that hidden things that are harmful to us (pesticides, antibiotics, high fructose corn syrup, etc) are no longer allowed in our food sold in America , then, and only then might we see a change in our country's health of all americans, especially children. Low income families can't afford to buy organic. It is simply out of the reach of the poor and now jobless middle class. We are all going to get fatter and fatter because we don't have a choice to buy organic anymore. No job, no money to buy food with out additives. Sometimes I feel like we are being scammed by the FDA and Medical System working as a team to line their pockets with our health misfortune. The moral compass of all involved has been lost for a long time.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  127. perry

    Jack. I’m 50 years old and never have seen so many obese and overweight people in my life! The fact that 4years old will probably not see my age, this once again comes from leading by example from the parents the same people who complain about health care haven’t skip a meal in the last 15 minutes. Here’s some advice put the fork down push yourself away from the table get off your butt and go for a walk! You just saved yourself from a doctor’s visit

    April 10, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  128. Alicia

    The future for our children is a lifetime of ill health. Nothing short of a cultural revolution will stop this food madness or diminish our sense of entitlement around all kinds of energy, inclucing calories. The first step is for parents to get up off the couch, throw away the chocolate Easter bunnies and take responsibility for their health and the health of their children.

    Last month a baseball park in Michigan announced it's promotion of a 4800 calorie hamburger. Will our appetite for the obscene never end?

    April 10, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  129. Tanner, San Diego

    A corn syrup tax would be...SWEET!!

    April 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  130. Carol - Tennessee

    My 40 year old daughter is a prime example of what awaits children who are obese at the age of 4. My daughter wasn't even really obese – just needed 'husky' sizes when she returned from spending summer vacation at her grandmother's. My son, 6, was in the same boat. However, boys tend to be more active and he lost that weight. I was still struggling with my daughter's weight until she married. To this day, her weight is not a subject we can discuss because I tried so hard to get her to lose it when she lived at home. I even tried to get her pediatrician to back me up – his words "She'll lose it when she becomes interested in boys" !! Again, not severly obese then. Now, she probably weighs around 250 and is 5' 4" tall. If parents don't act now, and really get tough, the kids will continue to gain and gain and gain. Especially the girls, unless they happen to be athletic or have some other method of getting the exercise they need. Obviously, I failed. I've had two heart attacks and I'm not overweight. My father died at age 56 of a massive heart attack. Both of my children and at least one grandchild have high cholesterol. Hopefully my story will be a warning to parents – no matter what it takes, be sure your children don't start down that slippery slope. Unfortunately, many girls wind up dating and getting married to 'enablers' – men who want their spouse to be overweight. And trust me, there are a lot of them out there and one of them is married to my daughter.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  131. nigel

    the only hope jack is to make the suppliers of our soft drinks and high sugar products to pay for the childrens and everyone eles medical bills that are deemed caused by consuption of there products, hold them accountable jack, time for some law siuts jack

    nigel

    April 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  132. Ken

    As someone who works in education, it's no wonder that 4-year-olds have an obesity problem. Many schools still serve junk food and many parents relinquish their responsibility as parents because it's easier to give in to their kids. It's the same mentality that results in parents who want their child to have less homework because it impacts on the parents' time. If a parent can buy fast food to save them the time of having to cook and if they can put them in front of the t.v. so that they don't have to go outside and play with their kids, then all the more time for them.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  133. Ken- Las Vegas

    Your right Jack, it's hard for the kid to learn good eating habits when Mom and Dad are stuffing their face with a Big Mac and super size fries. It also doesn't help when you go to the store and almost all the foods are loaded with salt, sugar and who knows what else. It's going to take a concerted effort on the governments part to get these companies to eliminate all the junk in the foods we buy and parents to learn better eating habits and serve healthier meals to their children, not to mention exercise.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  134. Linda Dean

    Jack, What about TRANS FAT? CORN SUGAR?
    These should be outlawed, so should corn sugar be taken off the shelves of our grocery stores. NO WONDER KIDS are fat!!
    We need more control over our food supply. But big money and the 'government is bad and will lead us to socialism' folks seem not to care for the children.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  135. Karen

    I don't know what this means for future generations but for me, a Universal PreK teacher, it means a whole new set of curriculum objectives. I was just "awarded" an entire booklet as a portion of the NYS DOH "Eat Well Play Hard" initiative, complete with Parent Pages. Now we get to TEACH 4 year old students and their families about how to live healthy. Just one more thing for teachers to attend to...

    April 10, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  136. Jasmine in Germany

    The future holds an even more financially disasterous health care system and the "most powerful nation" boasting the unhealthiest citizens on earth. Jack, I've seen one year olds sucking on lollipops, two year olds sucking on a straw in a cola bottle, and parents giving their toddlers French fries as finger food. The parents ought to be spanked. There's hope, though; the First Family is setting a good example. Maybe some people will start to pay attention, otherwise a license may be required for parenthood.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  137. Linda

    Corn sugar and trans fat insure fat kids and adults, increased illnesses and syndromes.
    Many countries do not allow such damaging food stuffs. What in the world are we thinking?

    April 10, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  138. barbara

    Unfortunately the undisciplined behavior of the current adult generation has caused major ramifications in the area of weight issues as well as financial conditions. We are making small steps toward moving the pendulum in the right direction on both conditions but it will take long term perserverence and consistent discipline to trully make huge changes for our children's sake.
    Deleting the sugar from our children's diet is the number one best thing we can do for them to fight this epidemic.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  139. Marilyn (New York)

    Policy makers need to be more willing to significantly fund nutrition education programs for youth and adult audiences. Funding prevention, education, and lifelong behavior change, is cheaper than paying for the health care alternatives.

    And school administrators as well as their state and federal regulators need to be serious about healthy in-school meal programs. We need more focus on healthy foods, locally grown and less processed items. Sometimes the cheapest commodities are not always the right way to go.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  140. John in Seattle

    Let's start taxing the people who have children to pay for their fat little nose picker's health care, instead of making smokers cover it. If we are going to penalize unhealthy behavior like smoking; we had better start taxing fat people as well. Maybe they can cover the healthcare of the people who smoke.

    I don't support taxing people like this. I was just trying to illustrate what a bunch of idiotic facists Americans have become. But we should stop subsidizing human spawning.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  141. Joannie Aguayo

    This is just one more result of the "cost of doing nothing" to eradicate poverty- and unfortunately will likely worsen if we do not shift our nation's public policy- the old argument that it is too costly to invest in our future by ensuring that our children receive basic food, shelter, health care, education, and nutrition is only going to cost us much more later when these children develop chronic illness. It is much cheaper to eat high fat/calorie foods than a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. WIC just now revised its menu to include healthier foods- now lets adjust the federal poverty level, currently set at $21,000 a year for a family of 4, to a more realistic amount so more children can qualify. We either pay now or pay later in terms of higher health care costs, disability claims, and work productivity.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  142. Darin

    Parents hold a responsibility to their kids to feed them the right kind of foods. Everyone knows that a 4-year-old doesn't know any better. It's common sense that fast food is not a healthy choice, but it doesn't seem to make any difference. It's an easy alternative to having to cook every night.

    Parents also need to make it a goal to be active with their kids as often as possible, and not let video games and movies become their babysitters (on top of fast food lunches and dinners). A little effort goes a long way!

    April 10, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  143. terry goldstein

    To answer your question regarding 4 -year -olds: As a retired Physical Education teacher,I have seen P.E .and other related arts decreasing and all but disappearing. As long as test scores are up,students can be as fat as they ,their parents and the adminisration want. Many school systems reward monetary funds to schools with high test scores. If they did that for weight averages,our schools would be poor. The future of today's 4-year-olds rests in the hands of parents,educators and most of all the agriculture department of the U.S. government for not better regulating food additives,supplements and foreign sources of food production that contain appetite enhancers,preservatives and high fat content. Our young students will be smarter and fatter,only to become ill and die at an earlier age. They will be replaced by the same stereo-typical student in the next generation. The snowball effect will continue until a full-on assault is instituted by the everyone,including the major producers of ready-made and convienent foods. Just hope all those 4-year-olds have haelth benefits.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  144. Alpha from Brussels, Belgium

    It's alarming Jack but what I see is that in poor countries the poor are dying of hunger but in rich countries like the USA the poor are dying of over-feeding.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  145. Andrew

    Jack,

    The future in store for these children quite probably holds a life time of subjugation to shame, guild, ridicule and inadequacies that will plague them right to the end of their short life's.

    The tragic reality for our nation is the fact that these habits are mostly learned and fostered by the previous generation and will surely be passed to the next. This fortifies the reality that 1 in 5 Americans will be forever trapped in poor health.

    Mom, Dad, I know little Johnny likes cheeseburgers. I'll I'm saying is you might as well get him a back of Lucky's while your at it.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  146. Amber Williamson, Tarzana, CA

    I grew up in the UK at a time when the staple diet was meat and potatoes, lots of milk, cheese, eggs and bread. There was little fruit and veg in the diet. No one got fat. I would like to see more independent research done on any connection between meat and dairy, produced through genetic engineering and with hormones, and obesity in children and adults.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  147. Lea

    The money has nothing to do with what these parents buy in the way of food!!!!! Food stamps pays for candy, cokes, cookies, donuts, sodas. I work in a grocery store and the government should just watch what is bought with OUR money. They spend 50% of their "FOOD STAMP MONEY" on JUNK, not food. If food stamps did not pay for this "junk food" the parents could not buy it, so
    looks to me like the government is to blame. I think food stamps are great for real food, people need to eat, but people do not need to eat candy, sodas, and junk that causes you to gain weight.
    I work 2 jobs, and feed my kids, they are not over weight because i can not afford to buy this junk, we buy real food.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  148. Fay Martin Raleigh, NC

    Good to have you back. It is a lot easier for working parents to go thru the drive thru for easy feeding of the kids than going home and making a salad, a lot of it is just pure laziness on the parents part, but the drink machines and snack machines should be taken out of the schools. But obese 4 years olds falls strictly on the parents....they are probably obese also. Thank you.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  149. Christine, Thousand Oaks Ca

    Health care costs will continue to skyrocket to take care of all these fatties – adults and their chubby children. They will be plagued with diabetes, heart disease, asthma, etc. We need to reintroduce phys ed to our schools to get kids moving and remove as much sugar from children's diets as possible. Nutrition education is crucial – so many people just don't understand what makes them fat – hidden sugars are a huge problem.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  150. barbara South Carolina

    Unfortunately the undisciplined behavior of the current adult generation has caused major ramifications in the area of weight issues as well as financial conditions. We are making small steps toward moving the pendulum in the right direction on both conditions but it will take long term perserverence and consistent discipline to trully make huge changes for our children’s sake.
    Deleting the sugar from our children’s diet is the number one best thing we can do for them to fight this epidemic.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  151. Kingsley

    The answer is simple"Nothing".Maybe it's time to take away computer games from the stores,intruduce national excercise day and introduce a national balance diet.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  152. Matt Longjohn

    Today's epidemic of obesity in preschoolers will be a driving force for tomorrow's (actually the 21st Century's) healthcare crisis. Obesity will break the back of our healthcare system.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  153. Kingsley,From Morroco

    The answer is simple”Nothing”.Maybe it’s time to take away computer games from the stores,intruduce national excercise day and introduce a national balance diet

    April 10, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  154. Roberto Sancen Jr.

    It's starts with our Education System, Period.

    April 10, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  155. sandi

    Since these kids are not getting enough exercise, put them to work. Take them & have them clean up the neighborhoods. Give them small brooms and dustpans, since they are close to the ground anyway. Let them burn calories and do community service at the same time so they get the feeling of doing good for others! in times of need we will be so grateful to these rugrats!

    April 10, 2009 at 6:52 pm |