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The Washington Post reports on a new study by the Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen saying that “being overweight as a child significantly increases the risk for heart disease in adulthood as early as age 25,” and that this seems to apply to “even those who were just a little chubby as kids, and possibly regardless of whether they lost the weight when they grew up.”

David S. Ludwig of the Harvard Medical School describes the study as a “frightening glimpse” of the future, noting that the results suggest “long-term consequences for adult illness and death.”

And, he said, “We don't have all the data yet. But by the time all the data comes in it's going to be too late. You don't want to see the water rising on the Potomac before deciding that global warming is a problem. We need national policies to address childhood obesity, too."

KC's View:
The implications of the study are threefold. (If you want to read the whole thing, check out the Postpiece…it is worth reading. Or, check out the whole study in the New England Journal of Medicine.)

One, it means that the childhood obesity epidemic is almost certainly going to have an impact on the nation’s health care system, because as these kids grow up, they are going to create new and possibly crippling stresses on a system unprepared to handle them.

Two, the study suggests that the time for intervention is in childhood – that if the problem of obesity is addressed early enough, the trend can be arrested or even reversed.

Three, it implies that if society doesn’t address these issues seriously and comprehensively, the next generation could in fact have a shorter lifespan than our generation.

By the way, it is worth pointing out that not all the news in this arena is bad. MSNBC has a story saying that the National Institutes of Health’s We Can! program “is teaming up with the Association of Children’s Museums, as well as the cities of Boston, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas, the three largest cities yet to adopt the 2-year-old initiative.

“We Can! — short for Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition — is aimed at kids 8-13 and pushes commonsense steps to keep off weight, such as eating fewer high fat foods, exercising more and spending less time staring at television and computer screens.

“But it doesn’t just try to persuade kids to give up the fun foods and activities that pack on pounds. It relies on parents to make it easier for kids to make healthier choices.”

Which seems a better option than, say, sending kids to McDonald’s with coupons when they get good grades.

But I don't want to beat that particular dead horse…yet. (Go to “Your Views” for that particular whipping…)