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remdog
03-17-2005, 12:07 PM
I wrote that headline tongue-in-cheek. The truth is that this is just further evidence that people are stepping up the pace that they kill themselves.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/17/health/17obese.html?ex=1268715600&en=a442f38cbe644421&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

Children's Life Expectancy Being Cut Short by Obesity
By PAM BELLUCK

Published: March 17, 2005


OSTON, March 16 - For the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents, according to a new report, which contends that the rapid rise in childhood obesity, if left unchecked, could shorten life spans by as much as five years.

The report, to be published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, says the prevalence and severity of obesity is so great, especially in children, that the associated diseases and complications - Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, cancer - are likely to strike people at younger and younger ages.

The report, which wades into several controversial aspects of public health, is likely to stir debate on both scientific and political grounds. The health effects of being obese depend on many factors, like one's fitness level. And estimating these effects could alter the expected cost of medical care and the size of pension payouts.

The report says the average life expectancy of today's adults, roughly 77 years, is at least four to nine months shorter than it would be if there were no obesity. That means that obesity is already shortening average life spans by a greater rate than accidents, homicides and suicides combined, the authors say.

And they say that because of obesity, the children of today could wind up living two to five years less than they otherwise would, a negative effect on life span that could be greater than that caused by cancer or coronary heart disease.

"Obesity is such that this generation of children could be the first basically in the history of the United States to live less healthful and shorter lives than their parents," said Dr. David S. Ludwig, director of the obesity program at Children's Hospital Boston, and one of the authors of the report.

"We're in the quiet before the storm," Dr. Ludwig said. "It's like what happens if suddenly a massive number of young children started chain smoking. At first you wouldn't see much public health impact." He added, "But years later it would translate into emphysema, heart disease and cancer."

"There is an unprecedented increase in prevalence of obesity at younger and younger ages without much obvious public health impact," Dr. Ludwig said. "But when they start developing heart attack, stroke, kidney failures, amputations, blindness, and ultimately death at younger ages, then that could be a huge effect on life expectancy."

Longevity projections are notoriously slippery and politically charged, with consequences for issues like Social Security, pension plans, health insurance and health care costs. Some demographers and obesity experts question whether the authors' estimate is alarmist.

"Yes, it is almost certain that the risks of these various diseases will rise as obesity rises in the population, but you also have to assume that the medical sciences will get better at treating some of these complications," said Dr. Rudolph L. Leibel, an obesity researcher at Columbia University. "Certainly doing that is going to end up costing more, but it may not end up stripping months or years off life."

An editorial in the same issue of The New England Journal, written by Dr. Samuel H. Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania, raises similar questions. It suggests that the predictions of decreased life expectancy might be "excessively gloomy," given potential advances in medicine and genetic engineering, and the reduction of harmful behaviors like smoking.

Dr. Preston concludes, however, that "the rising prevalence and severity of obesity are capable of offsetting the array of positive influences on longevity."

The report's lead author, Dr. S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health at the University of Illinois, Chicago, said he considered the report's projections of reduced life expectancy to be "very conservative, and I think the negative effect is probably greater than we have shown."

"Hopefully, we can fix obesity so that our projections are wrong," Dr. Olshansky added. "But we're seeing such large increases in obesity in the last couple of decades that it's hard to imagine that we're going to be able to work fast enough."

Estimating the number of obesity-related deaths is controversial, too. Last November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its earlier estimate that 400,000 people die annually from obesity was inflated. A revised, lower estimate is expected soon. The New England Journal report uses an estimate of 300,000 deaths, which some experts contend is still too high.

The report projected life expectancy by calculating how much longer people would live if "everyone who is currently obese were to lose enough weight to maintain an optimal" body-mass index, a measure of the relationship between a person's height and weight. The authors believe it is more accurate than other projections.

The report comes at a time when the country is embroiled in a debate over Social Security. While the report's authors say they started their research long before the current debate, they write that "the U.S. population may be inadvertently saving Social Security by becoming more obese" and dying sooner, but that "this 'benefit' will occur at the expense of the economy in the form of lost productivity before citizens reach retirement and large increases in Medicare costs associated with obesity and its complications."

Rem

ochre
03-17-2005, 12:35 PM
wow. I read that as shortstop and thought maybe there was some badnews bears news.

Roy Tucker
03-17-2005, 12:58 PM
wow. I read that as shortstop and thought maybe there was some badnews bears news.
Me too.

I thought it was the next step on the Roy McMillan-Dal Maxvill-Cal Ripken Jr.-ARod SS evolutionary path.

Maybe that guy that played QB for UK.

remdog
03-17-2005, 01:43 PM
OK guys. Even if it is the non-baseball side of the board, I've corrected/expanded the headline. :) Sorry 'bout that.

So, got any fat kids in the neighborhood? ;)

Rem

zombie-a-go-go
03-17-2005, 01:45 PM
OK guys. Even if it is the non-baseball side of the board, I've corrected/expanded the headline. :) Sorry 'bout that.

So, got any fat kids in the neighborhood? ;)

Rem

The chick in the gingerbread house down the street said that all kids plump when you cook 'em.

remdog
03-17-2005, 01:49 PM
The chick in the gingerbread house down the street said that all kids plump when you cook 'em.

So, how'd you escape? ;)

Rem

RedsBaron
03-17-2005, 01:50 PM
The chick in the gingerbread house down the street said that all kids plump when you cook 'em.
Wasn't that Jonathan Swift's "modest proposal" to end poverty by eating the young and poor?

Rojo
03-17-2005, 01:53 PM
Fast-food takes a lot of the rap for making us fat -- and deservedly so. But I think soda pop might be the biggest reason people are so fat today. My family's roots in Atlanta go back several generations, so my love of Coca-Cola is hard-wired. But coke and other soft-drinks used to be treated like, well, treats. Its liquid candy.

Also, with people having fewer children, kids today have a dearth of peers to play with. Time was, two blocks had enough kids for a baseball game without ghost-runners. Now they play games online. Added to the fact that the evening news scares the parents into thinking that child porno rings lie in wait outside the front-door and you have the recipe for fat, inactive children.

Roy Tucker
03-17-2005, 01:55 PM
OK guys. Even if it is the non-baseball side of the board, I've corrected/expanded the headline. :) Sorry 'bout that.

So, got any fat kids in the neighborhood? ;)

Rem
I was just being a wise guy. Feel free to throw rocks at me.

remdog
03-17-2005, 01:59 PM
Thank you, Rojo! I know that this thread has lead to several tongue-in-cheek jokes. And, actually, I can appreciate them so,that's good guys. :)

However, this is a serious subject and it has interest for me and, hopefully, for others here also.

Gotta' go, catching a flight up to (your general area, Rojo) Sonoma. I'll be interested to see the thoughts on Monday.

Rem

zombie-a-go-go
03-17-2005, 02:00 PM
So, how'd you escape? ;)

Rem

Slid my skinny butt through the celldoor bars. :D

zombie-a-go-go
03-17-2005, 02:03 PM
Fast-food takes a lot of the rap for making us fat -- and deservedly so. But I think soda pop might be the biggest reason people are so fat today. My family's roots in Atlanta go back several generations, so my love of Coca-Cola is hard-wired. But coke and other soft-drinks used to be treated like, well, treats. Its liquid candy.

Also, with people having fewer children, kids today have a dearth of peers to play with. Time was, two blocks had enough kids for a baseball game without ghost-runners. Now they play games online. Added to the fact that the evening news scares the parents into thinking that child porno rings lie in wait outside the front-door and you have the recipe for fat, inactive children.

I couldn't agree more with you about soda... I don't let my girls touch it. And if more parents would go outside with their children as opposed to letting the glass teat babysit them, a lot of the problems with childhood obesity would end right there.

The "me-first" kids of the eighties/early-ninetys went and had themselves some spawn without growing up themselves.

Roy Tucker
03-17-2005, 02:18 PM
I think Rojo hit on the main points; fast food, soft drinks, lack of exercise, the Internet, video games, suburban angst.

One thing not mentioned is the deemphasizing of phys. ed. in schools. When I was a kid, we had gym all through the school year and through high school. It guaranteed at least a modicum of exercise throughout the week.

My kids have gym just 1 trimester per school year. And the HS phys. ed. requirements are very low. Kids just don't get as much incidental exercise.

We've been lucky with our 3 kids so far. All are rail-thin. They are all active and play sports. My wife does a good job of balanced meals and having healthy snack food around.

We've never badgered the kids about eating. When they were young, we put good meals before them. If they ate, good. If they didn't, that was fine too, but they had to wait till the next meal to eat, i.e. no snacks. They all seem to have a good sense of what food to eat and in what portions and they eat just that (drives me nuts, my son will stop in mid-cookie when he feels full).

We let them have a can of soda per day. We figured that they'll get soda at birthday parties, sleep-overs, etc and we didn't want pop to be the forbidden fruit that they gorge on when given the chance. We keep lots of bottled water around and juices and they drink that a lot.

pedro
03-17-2005, 02:24 PM
Soda Pop/Soft Drinks are evil.

I like me a Coca-Cola about once a month but that's it.

I can't understand how people drink so much of it.

westofyou
03-17-2005, 02:27 PM
We never had soda/cookies/chips as a regular item in our house... ate some cheese and crackers though, learned to make soda pop out of club soda, sugar and fruit juice too.

RFS62
03-17-2005, 02:38 PM
I think portion sizes have gone through the roof in the past few years, too.

I remember when McDonalds came out with the Quarter Pounder. I was amazed at how big it was. You never saw a hamburger that big back then, before electricity.

Parents used to tell kids to clean their plate. You do that today in nearly any resturant, and you're gonna gain weight.