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Obesity is worst health problem for kids


March 24 — An obesity epidemic threatens to eradicate other improvements in children’s health and safety over the past three decades, a new report by Duke University researchers says. “Childhood obesity has risen to a point where it can be considered a modern day epidemic,” said the report.

The report — commissioned by the Foundation for Child Development, which backs increased support for children — also looked at children’s well-being in several other categories, including violent crime and illegal drug use. It noted that 44.4 of every 1,000 people between the ages of 12 and 15 were likely to be victims of violent crime in 2002, down from 77.5 per 1,000 in 1974, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. And 39.3 percent of 12th graders in 2003 told University of Michigan researchers that they used illegal drugs in the past year, down from 53.8 percent in 1978.

“Overall, children and youths are faring better today than ever before,” the report said. But Duke University sociologist Kenneth Land, one of the report authors, said children should be faring even better. “Kids are doing better, but they are not going nearly as well as they should given this country’s advances in education, health and social programs,” Land said. “As parents, and as a country, we ought to be doing better by our children.”

Childhood obesity has become an issue of national concern, with a quarter to one-third of all children overweight in the United States. Doctors recommend a healthful, natural approach, including the elimination of food, increasing activity levels, and involving parents in the effort to normalize children’s weight.

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