Childhood Obesity

The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years. -- Deepak Chopra

As listed by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.
The percentage of obese children age 6-11 years in the United States increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of obese adolescents aged 12-19 years increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.
In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat.

Overweight and obesity are the result of "caloric imbalance"-too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed-and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.

Snack is singular. Snacks, plural. First off, let's use the term correctly. For instance, on the note that comes home from school: "On Tuesday the 16th, it is Bobby's turn to bring in snack." Wrong. It should be "snacks", as for the whole class, or "a snack" for just oneself.

Okay, enough of my rant on semantics. Let me start the real rant, which would be the snack society we now live in. The stats at the top of the page makes it perfectly clear where our nation is heading.

According to more recent statistics, diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death, and the fifth leading cause of death from disease in 2007. Diabetes costs $116 billion annually in direct medical costs, and $58 billion annually in indirect costs (loss of work, disability, loss of life). It affects an estimated 23.6 million people in the U.S. (90 to 95 percent have type 2 diabetes): 17.9 million have been diagnosed, but 5.7 million are unaware they have the disease.

So what does that have to do with the snack? Everything. Just look at your local soccer game. "Who's turn is it to bring "snack?" (Incorrectly used, I might add.) "Oh, mustn't forget the parent's snack schedule." God forbid you space out on your child's snack day and fail to bring the highly coveted snack, or even worse- bring a snack that isn't full of additives, fat, salt, sugar, etc. and have poor Sally be ostracized by her peers as "the kid who brings lame treats". Does your five year old really need the 24-ounce sports drink after a robust soccer game? Sports drinks were designed to replenish real athletes- the ones that are working their bodies so hard they are losing precious fluids from intense physical exertion. I'm going out on a limb here, but your five year old is not losing precious fluids watching the ball from across the field. Even if they are sweating, it's good for them. How about providing water instead? When did we stop using water to hydrate? That's what our bodies are mostly made of!

What we are really teaching our children is the same thing the famous Dr. Pavlov taught his hungry dogs: every event, every mediocre accomplishment, every time we go somewhere, we are rewarded with food. Don't think that this isn't the case- it is. We need to do something about the obesity of our children. The statistics don't lie and we, as responsible adults, need to provide healthy food choices and healthy portions for our children. Is there really a cost difference between an apple and a bag of chips? No. If they are hungry enough, they'll eat the apple rather than complain about it. Let's teach them how to eat right and the great value of nutrition, so they may enjoy a long, happy and healthy life. So let's stop with the blasted snacks already, and try choosing good, fresh wholesome foods, fruits, and vegetables in proper portions.

Dr. O'Hara's office is located at 940 S. Arthur Avenue in Arlington Heights. For more information, call 847/577-3597 or visit

New clients receive a free consultation


Find us on the map