business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post reports that “the rate of health-threatening high blood pressure has started rising among American children for the first time in decade< and is seen by researchers as a natural and unwelcome result of the nation’s childhood obesity crisis.

“After dropping steadily since the 1960s, diagnoses of early hypertension and full-blown high blood pressure began creeping up among children and adolescents beginning in the late 1980s as the obesity epidemic apparently began to take its toll, according to an analysis of data collected from nearly 30,000 youths by seven federal surveys,” the Post writes.

“Although the increases so far have been small -- just 2.3 percentage points for early hypertension and 1 point for full-blown hypertension -- they translate into hundreds of thousands more children developing what often becomes a chronic, lifelong condition. Considered primarily an affliction of the middle-aged and elderly, high blood pressure is a leading cause of a host of health problems, including heart attack and stroke – the nation's top killers.”

This is just the latest in a series of findings that traditionally adult diseases are finding their way into the nation’s child population. There also are higher rates of diabetes and high cholesterol among US young people, and these rates also are traceable to the nation’s obesity issues.

“This is very worrisome," Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, tells the Post. "Typically in the past we didn't begin to see high blood pressure until someone was in their 30s or 40s. This is another piece of evidence suggesting that the obesity epidemic will likely turn into a heart disease epidemic.”
KC's View:
We’re not just killing ourselves. We’re killing our children.

As a society, at what point are we going to wake up and realize that when we allow our kids to eat so much fast food, allow them to avoid exercise in favor of video games, and allow them to avoid interacting their families by not scheduling regular and frequent family meal times, we’re not just ignoring our responsibilities as parents, but actually creating a climate that threatens their physical and mental health?

Not to climb on my high-horse here, but this strikes me as a ludicrous situation, because it is completely avoidable.

It also is a situation that the food industry is in a unique position to address, it seems to me, both in how it formulates and markets products.

It occurred to me after writing the piece last week about Hannaford’s Guiding Stars program – which assigns stars to good, better and best foods and gives parents a credible, actionable source of information as they choose which products to give their children – that one of the best things about it is the fact that the folks at Hannaford weren’t just acting like businesspeople. They also were acting as parents, and showing greater responsibility for the products they were selling to fellow parents.