Friday, 29 June 2007

Children Sicker Now Than in Past, Harvard Report Says

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The number of American children with chronic illnesses has quadrupled since the time when some of their parents were kids, portending more disability and higher health costs for a new generation of adults, a study estimates.

An almost fourfold increase in childhood obesity in the past three decades, twice the asthma rates since the 1980s, and a jump in the number of attention-deficit disorder cases are driving the growth of chronic illnesses, according to researchers at Harvard University in Boston. The report is published in a themed issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association focusing on children's health.

Doctors and public health officials should be bracing for a wave of chronically ill young adults with weight-related ailments that include diabetes and heart disease. In 1960, just 1.8 percent of U.S. children and adolescents were reported to have a chronic health condition that limited their activities. In 2004, the rate rose to 7 percent, researchers said.

``These three conditions -- obesity, asthma, ADHD -- overwhelm all other chronic conditions,'' Perrin said. ``The life of the family practitioner is very different than it was. Far more children come in with the type of chronic health problems we hardly thought about 35 years ago.''

These is alarming but hardly surprising news. Even in the Philippines where I live, I see children more and more children with asthma and those who are obese. Almost every time I go to a super market, I see a very fat kid on a shopping cart, perhaps too fat to move. And I also observe that these children do not have the inquisitive, curious eyes normally associated with children. They have dull, lifeless eyes that appear to be depressed, probably because he had to be removed away from TV.

A deadly combination of unhealthy food, sedentary lifestyle, and considerable lack of its parents' role in physical development are in my opinion the culprit that threatens the well being of children not only in America, but in the whole world.

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