Childhood Obesity Has More Than Tripled Since the 1970s

September 8, 2017, 11:24 am EST | Share:

CHARLESTON, SC (FOX 24 NEWS NOW) — It’s a serious epidemic, childhood obesity, and about 1 in 6 children suffer from excessive body fat that in turn impacts them physically and socially. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

“When I was in training, 30-40 years ago, children were not overweight. We did not have any children with type-2 diabetes,” said Dr. Janice Key, director of adolescent medicine at MUSC. “But now, about a third of our children are obese. We think it is because many, many things have changed in our culture like eating fast food, eating in our cars, packaged foods, it’s harder for kids to get out and exercise. All of those things combined.”

Dr. Key recalled her childhood when kids would go outside to play, but says these days, neighborhoods are not as safe for playing unsupervised making it less often for children to have outdoor activities.

“A kid can’t just ride their bike anywhere in town because each of the neighborhoods are isolated by roads that are dangerous to cross,” she said.

She also says the influence of technology has something to do with the epidemic as well, but that could change. “There are screens everywhere, so a lot of that is bad and causes them to sit still. But some technology is starting to incorporate physical activity.”

Playing outdoors and technology isn’t only to blame.

There are health implications that can cause weight gain. “A lot of it we can see and measure, like kids who get diabetes, but there are things we cannot measure like blood vessels in obese teenagers that are stiff and thick as a 50-year-old. So, we don’t know what will happen when that kid, who may not have diabetes or hypertension then, or if they will have heart disease by their 50’s.”