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Right now, nearly one in six children is overweight. Given the findings of a group of studies recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, however, it's a wonder that they all aren't fat. Their environment is certainly working against them.
Each of the studies paints a damning picture of one aspect of our children's chub-charged environment. According to a University of Michign study, eighty-three percent of high schools and 67 percent of middle schools have contracts with a soft drink manufacturer that pays them from $500 to $6000 a year for the privilege of fattening the student bodies. Hispanic children are downing the sodas at the highest rate, but the rest aren't far behind.
In another U of M study, researchers found that only one in ten children is taking any physical education by twelfth grade. That pitiful number is even less for African American and Hispanic kids.
A University of Illinois study found that one in four television commercials seen by teens is for food, and it's definitely not advertising broccoli. African-American adolescents see about fourteen percent more food ads than their white peers, and the ads are heavily weighted, so to speak, toward junk and fast food.
According to researchers from the U of I, low-income minority neighborhoods are riddled with fast-food outlets, far more than are found in high-income white neighborhoods. Another study, from both U of I and U of M, found that the abundance of corner stores in poor neighborhoods is associated with being fatter, whereas having a large upscale supermarket is associated with being thinner.
The obvious conclusion, that we need to get our children to eat right and exercise more, seems a bit fatuous in light of the constant environmental pressures to go the other way that our children are exposed to. If we don't change the environment, the likelihood of keeping our children slim looks pretty slim.
Source: Medline Plus; American Journal of Preventive Medicine, September 2007
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.