Global + Obesity = Globesity

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Last month, while watching the 2008 Olympic coverage from Beijing on The Today Show, I viewed a very interesting segment by medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman. She was discussing the rising trend of childhood obesity in China. According to Dr. Snyderman, in the past 10 years, China has seen a 156% increase in overweight children. This figure is second only to the US. How should we stop this trend of rising obesity rates?

In 2001, a writer for the World Health Organization coined a new term describing this new epidemic. By combining the words global and obesity the word GLOBESITY was born, and yet little has changed in the seven years since its inception. What was once only an issue seen in western countries has spread to almost all reaches of the globe. You can now find US restaurant chains around the world. This situation, coupled with less activity for our children, is leading to a potentially shortened lifespan.

A 2006 Center for Disease Control and Prevention study determined that 32% of all American kids were overweight, and of that number, 16% were classified as obese. Here in the States, where fast food and video games often take precedence over home-cooked meals and long family walks, there is a huge push by local, national, and international communities to get this pandemic under control.

The statistics are staggering, and if this trend does not swing back in the other direction, sadly our children may never experience growing old with grace. Type II Diabetes, once a disease primarily seen in adults age 40 and older, is now being diagnosed in children as young as 10. This does not even account for the number of children diagnosed with high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, liver disease, etc.

While childhood obesity is a big concern, we can’t ignore the trend within the adult population either. In 2004, a study by the International Obesity Task Force determined that world wide 1.7 BILLION people needed to lose weight and of that number 312 million were considered obese.

These are mind-boggling statistics when you think how far we have come to defeat diseases such as polio and small pox. Those diseases were spread by germs, yet we are choosing to undo all that modern medicine can offer by putting our poor choices ahead of embracing a healthy lifestyle.

How do you think we should battle "Globesity"? Is it a personal battle or should governments and other outside bodies intervene?

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you can call me insane if you want. But more and more I've been leaning towards campaigning to the outlawing of Coca-Cola! My seemingly-innocent childhood obsession is now clearly dangerous and an unnecessary evil. Report
Hmmm...McDonald's: the weapon of mass destruction. Report
the more "the west" gets into our post-soviet country, the more overweight children i see around. i lived in the states and got used to the fact that most teenagers i saw there were overweight. but it is very strange to see the same increasing tendency in my own country.
fast food, processed foods, supermarkets instead of street markets with home meat, eggs, veggies, milk... etc etc
"civilization" seems to be messing with our health too much :s Report
When I was in school, physical education was as important as any other educational class and we had it daily; it was not an option. Now many schools do not even offer it as it is one of the first things cut when funds are low. We need to place more emphasis on physical education in schools which is where it will have the most impact on children. Unfortunately there are more latch-key kids who spend their afterschool hours in front of video games or television. It would be so much healthier for them if they were involved in after school intramural sports where they could be picked up by parents when work is finished. Report
We all like to say that we live a fast-paced lifestyle and that we don't have time for (fill-in the blank), yet our water-cooler talk is filled with what we watched on TV last night and our kids spend more time watching screens (TV & gaming) than they do in school. So are we really that busy or are we just filling our time and not realizing where it goes??

Overall, I believe that keeping our kids healthy is a personal thing, but I also strongly believe that the culture needs to support the family - that that has completely broken down. Making a choice to turn off the TV, to eat dinner as a family, to cook healthy meals, to send the kids outside, can be like swimming against the tide. It can be done, but it is not easy.

The most important piece, tho, is changing the mindset so when a kid has made some of these choices they are not made to feel strange. Things like adults being shocked when a 3 yr old reports liking broccoli - and going on and on about it in front of the child. Things like every parenting magazine making it seem like it is impossible to "get" kids to eat vegetables. The message that kid-food equals fried, bland, and reduced of all nutrients has to GO. Kids can and will eat healthy if it is presented like it isn't such a big deal. They will also go outside and be active if the TV isn't constantly an alternative option. Report
The sad thing is that we live in a very fast paced society and we want everything fast, unfortunately that has lead to a lot of unhealthy "fast food" at our disposal. If we could slow down our lives and take out some of the stress that causes I think our waistelines would benefit. There will always be fattening foods out there to eat, but if we are content with our lives we may not eat as many of them as we are now. Report
So here's a question:
Has there been any definitive research done to seek the reasons for WHY children in China are gaining so much weight?
There may be some MickeyD's in China, but certainly not in the vast countryside, which is still limited technologically. I think it would be extremely valuable to know if the links to childhood obesity in China are the same as the ones blamed in the US - fast food & TV/video games. Report
I have one word to say "sad". Report
I do not believe that the government should have a part of correcting our obesity epidemic. We pay taxes to keep our country running and safe from our enemies, not to hold us accountable for for what we choose to eat. That is our job as citizens, parents, human beings.

The food pyramid has been published for longer than I've been alive and I remember very well learning about it in school. I don't know if Health is still a course that kids have the opportunity to take, but making sure we eat what is in the food pyramid was the job of my parents, as it is the job of parents now. Kids will eventually have to make their own choices, so giving them the foundation they need to be able to make good choices is imperative!

It doesn't appear that we're even looking at the root cause of this problem. WHY are kids and parents making the bad choices? Is it simply because it's easy? They don't know any better? Because crap is available to them? It's cheaper? What? Perhaps we need to seriously consider that we are so much busier in this day and age that speed and convenience have become more important than good health. I would guess that most of us do not have a choice but to go to work every day, but we can choose what we do when we are not at work. Are we, as a society, just too tired to handle our familial obligations so we take the easy way out?

Personally, I wish everyone could slow down. Stop rushing everywhere for any reason and trying to cram as much life into every single minute of their existance as is possible. Enjoy your families, eat meals with them. Geez, I sound like a Betty Crocker cookbook from the 1950's, but for me, that would be a better way of handling our problems, as a family!! Report
China has a one child law. China, being the communist country that is it, will probably inforce a "child obesity" law also. There's a slippery slope out there folks. Do we really want to tread out onto it?
I feel it is the government's responsibility to inform the population of the dangers of obesity, other than that, it's our responsibility to do the right thing. It's our choice whether or not to eat at McD or BK through the week - it's our choice whether or not we exercise - it's our choice whether to eat a small portion or a super-sized portion. Parents -- it's YOUR responsibility to feed your kids healthy meals and get them active. I wish I knew more when I was a younger mother - I would of done things differently for my own children. I would of rewarded them with more hugs and less cookies. Today's parents have no excuse, they know better and sadly, many choice to do the easy thing - feed the kids what they want. Heaven forbid, they be parents and not "buddies" with their kids. Report
We can't point the finger on this one at any one particular factor. As a society, we have gotten to this point through a lot of little steps. Eating more, watching more tv, and exercising less have not happened overnight. They all feed off of each other. There is so much more to watch on tv than there ever was before, and many people spend hours on the computer each day as well. Screen time can lead to mindless eating, and commercials guide us toward less healthy foods. Computers also make us much less active. Think about how many things we can do online now that used to require at least a little bit of exercise- paying bills (you at least had to walk to the mailbox), asking a coworker a questions, SHOPPING... We sit more and eat more, and that causes us to gain some weight. The weight causes us to be more tired, so we sit more....and eat more.... and gain more weight. There are other versions of this scenario, but you get the idea. Little changes have gotten us here, and it is going to take a lot of little changes to get our society healthier. Yes, we can point the finger at people for not making healthy choices, but what good does that do? The obesity epidemic hurts all of us. As more and more people are obese, we have more health care issues- our insurance premiums go up, our wait to see doctors lengthens. These problems can be detrimental to our health too. We need to address this as a society. Yes, parents are key in helping their children develop healthy habits, but there are so many people out there who truly don't know what is healthy. I have worked with parents of young children in all walks of life, and it is amazing how many of them turn on "educational" shows all day, fill never-ending sippy cups with juice, and offer "healthy" foods that are loaded with fat, sugar, and salt. These people honestly believe they are doing the right thing for their children. We need to educate them! Spark People is on the right track, but doctors, childcare providers, school lunch programs, teachers, the food industry, television networks, family, friends and neighbors all need to play a roll in this. If we all keep our mouths shut and wait for each individual to conquer this problem on their own, it is only going to get worse. Report
At first I thought it should be an effort by both ourselves and the government, but I am thinking more that it is a personal choice to be healthy or unhealthy, fit or fat. I know that some things have been done as far as more healthy choices being offered at fast food restaurants, labels, calorie and fat information, etc. But it still boils down to the choices that we make: Big Mac, or Salad?

It is a personal battle. No one forces us to eat unhealthy. It's a choice. That's why most all of us are using the SP site. We have been making bad food choices and now want to change to eat healthy and loose the weight that the crappy unhealthy food put on us. We have no one to blame but ourselfs. Fast food (Unhealthy fast food) would stop building and spreading if people stopped eating it. Report
If any child in any country, age 10 or under is obese, it is the parent's fault. They eat what they are given, allowed to buy, or is available in their kitchens. Parent's are in control of all of this. I am very educated on nutrition, and have never been overweight chart wise. Still, I weigh more than I would like too, and even with extreme care have found that calories are hard to track in restaraunt food. For example, a salad that I often ordered, for health reasons, I recently learned, has over 500! calories! A Salad! I've heard of salads that contain over 1,000 calories. It seems essential, and obvious, to me, to require restaurants to publish nutrition and calorie contents of their foods. Many of us DO read that information and with obesity an epidiemic, and the USA predicted to be a 100% obese population by 2042, if current trends continue, this seems like a no brainer. It has become our patriotic duty to keep ourselves and our kids fit and trim. Fit and trim in the opinion of the medical community, not our overly kind family members who constantly tell us that we are fine the way we are. We are not fine the way we are. We are too fat! Report
Like many other major social problems, social/governmental & individual responsibility are intertwined here. Reversing the worrisome escalation of obesity is going to require creativity & hard work on all levels. The high cost of organic foods, for example, is related to our Farm Bill & the way it favors certain crops & ways of farming over others. The Farm Bill needs to be dumped & completely rewritten, but both houses of Congress recently approved it with very few changes for another five years. Trade policies are helping the exporting of America's bad food habits--they need to be thoroughly reworked too. And meanwhile, each of us needs to make the most responsible decisions we can. I recommend Barbara Kingsolver's book _Animal Vegetable Miracle_--it will help you understand the personal, local, & global issues surrounding food (& it's a great read). Report
CUDDLESUK, that is just ridiculous. PEOPLE can decide for themselves if they want to buy a product or not, and the companies will ONLY continue to make it if they can SELL it. See how intelligent we are as SPARKERS, knowing that we can't eat FAST FOOD daily and not be obese. That is why we are changing our ways. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY is the answer. Report
I think a lot of other cultures are increasing obesity, not only in children but adults as well, because a lot of other countries have gone to "Western" eating habits. Mac Donalds is everywhere now, and other fast food places, and exposure to the style has spread out. I think its a parents responsibility to teach not only themselves but the children what is good nutrition. Restaurants, rather fast food or not, should activly choose to change the food they serve. Report
I'm with Joisiee. Better education is the first thing we need so that we can help train children in critical thought. I strongly feel that eating right and making healthy choices is personal responsibility, but we need to arm kids with the skills to make those good decisions! Yes, I do feel that companies need to be made to disclose full nutrition information, but having the government tell people what to wear, eat, and watch just raises more people who are ill equipped to figure out the right choices themselves! I don't believe health education starts with 'this is good and this is bad,' it starts with exercises to teach the PROCESS of figuring out the healthier choice. Honestly, I think that goes for violence in the media and sex education, too. Teach the process, provide ALL of the information, and show kids how to make good decisions... and to cope with their mistakes. Few things are worse than being ashamed and feeling you are essentially bad because you made a little mistake.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is, I don't think there's anything more important to fund than education! Report
LEELYNN2: As a professional educator for 9 years, I must say, ďTHANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for recognizing that if we are to teach new curriculum, we need additional funding to pay for materials and personnel.Ē Too many social problems (sex education, drug education, driverís education, character education) have been dumped in the public schools lap WITHOUT FUNDING over the years. Stretching staff and budgets to cover things that should have been taught at home is as much to blame for the decline in ACADEMIC education as TV and Nintendo.
That said, I also need to add that, even with proper funding, the public schools canít do it alone. School has the children 7 hrs a day, 180 days a year. What parents do with them the other 7500 hrs a year has a lot more impact. Parents who feed them pizza, chips, soda, McDonalds, and Twinkies are more likely to have fat kids.
CUDDLESUK: What the heck happened to personal responsibility? How hard is it to ask for a to-go box and put half the meal in it before one starts to eat? Or if that isnít appropriate for the restaurant, just leave some food on the plate! As for junk food, just do what I do with potato chips: DONíT BUY IT! No matter how big a bag I buy, I eat them all in one go, so I just donít buy them.
By your reasoning, we should ban alcohol because alcoholics canít control their drinking, tobacco because smokers are hooked on nicotine, and fossil fuels because according to the experts global warming is going to kill us all anyway.
1DECKER: I do agree with you that restaurants should be required to show AT LEAST kCals, fat, carbs, and protein for every item on the menu AS SERVED, not just a Ďproperí portion size, but if a person doesnít know what 4 oz of protein, an oz of cheese, a 2.5Ē diameter potato, or a half a cup of mixed veggies looks like, then that individual needs to educate him or herself.
I wonder how much junk and fast food is being introduced their diet. Report
I disagree with "MOTOMOJO" number 19 in responses. I do think the government should step in and require restaurants to disclose what and how they are cooking. but not only that but actual serving size needs to be disclosed. So many times I have gone to a restaurant to eat thinking I'm being SSOOO good only to find out later when I look up the nutrition facts that it was to serve two people!!!!. WHAT!!!!!!!!
We can't blame the government for everything, we do need to take responsibility but if we are going to blame them for healthcare problems in America then we can't complain when they want to regulate restaurant cooking, nutrition and serving size to help solve the problem. Nothing stops a person from eating more if that is what they want but for a person who is concerned with what and how much they eat they can eat informed!!!! Report
I think it is a personal battle for each person to deal with. However, I think that the government can have a hand in the solution. EDUCATE, INFORM. Going out to eat is never going to go away, but something the government could do is make all restuarants share what they are cooking with and the nutritionals. I know they might not make a difference to everyone, but to many it may make a difference. Report
For children, I think it's important to get them thinking healthy lifestyles through their Health classes or PE. Even changing what kinds of foods are offered at schools. Honestly though the real change has to come from home. Educating people on what is and isn't healthy and making healthy living more accessible to everyone (not just the well to do) will help curb the epidemic. I don't think that government intervention by way of fat taxes or banning certain kinds of foods or restaurants is appropriate though. Report
There is a lot more to the obesity epidemic than just larger portions. As much as I would like my kids to go out and roam the neighborhood like I did 40 years ago, it isn't safe. I'm talking the way people drive through neighborhoods, not just the fact that someone might do something to one of them. Report
I know waht it is to obese. I used to weigh 310 pounds and only stood 5 foot 2 inches tall. Unfortunatley there was no Spark People back then. I had to turn to gastric bypass surgery to help me. I'm proud o say I now weigh 170 pounds and now I have Spark People to help me along the new journey that I'm on. I thnak GOD every day for Spark People, it has been a real life saver for me. Thank you SPARK PEOPLE for being here for me now. Report
I think the size of food items should decrease in all food places. We all know the quantity of the food on the plate is too big. This would decrease the number of calories. Second would be offering better food choices. Report
I think it's ignorant, childish and naive to think that governments need to step in and take action here. Perhaps better food labeling and knowledge may help, but control over what restaurants prepare and people eat? That's there own business. What's next? Government control over our BMIs? Too Orwellian for me. Yes, governments should help ensure our food supply is safe from contaminants (uh-oh... who decides what a contaminant is?) and should help us understand more about the effects of too much of a good thing may have on us... but forcing us to eat what (and how much) some government bureaucrat deems appropriate? I'll fight to the death for someone's right to eat a bloomin' onion if they want to. Even if the thought of eating that makes me gag. Report
Goverments should step in to the food industry and stop all this processed food with all the additives like fat and sugar, the producers should be MADE to stop production of such junk food, also people like McDonalds should be put out of business, if the junk fast food wasn't there then we wouldnt get people eating it. I personally have NEVER eaten a McDonalds in my life and have no intention of ever doing so! In the states I would recommend that the restaurants that serve such huge portions [couldnt believe my eyes!] should be made to stop this too and to serve a normal portion per person.
Basically its down to far too much supply and big eyes in the consumers heads and therefore bellies growing larger too!
Genetics have nothing to do with it, it is down to what we put in our mouths, how much and whether or not its processed junk or good natural healthy food. Report

It all comes down to simple economics: supply and demand. The more Americans demand, the bigger the supply. If we lived in a country where there was not enough food to eat, we would be thin. But since we are a land of plenty, we take advantage of it. Sad to say, but we are spoiled. God has blessed America so much that our belly's are bulging but are wallets are shrinking. Report
I think everyone needs to do their part. The government needs to make sure schools keep their P.E. programs and that cafeterias are giving children healthy lunches and snacks. The community/ family/ parents also needs to do their part in teaching the children how to eat properly and maintain a healthy diet. We all have to learn it at some point, better to learn it young. Report
I don't want the government to tell me what I should eat, when I should eat it, what exercise I should do, or when I should do it. I am an adult now, I am responsible for myself. My parents taught us to eat healthily, but I got sucked into advertising. I did it to myself. I am paying my medical bills, so what I do and how I do it, is between me and my physician. Report
I think it's sad to think our children grow up learning bad eating habits. For our family, when I made a point of "getting off the couch and out of the drive-thru", my kids had no choice but to go along with the program. Sometimes it was hard to stick with our commitment (I think my daughter experienced mild fast-food withdrawal). But I am so proud of the progress we've made and continue to make. I think the key to the solving the problem, is educating ourselves about our health and adopting a disciplined attitude about the way we eat and move. Report
Typical American. You want to take credit for obesity around the world now?
Food addiction is a disese, but obesity is not and once we classify it as a disease, the goverment will be the only people allowed to tell us how to loose weight. Maybe fresh produce should be price controlled, but no food, no matter how awful, should be made illegal. Report
Not enough attention has been paid to obesity as a disease process because it has become so acceptable to blame the obese person and discriminate against them in every aspect of society. A drug addict gets better treatment for his problem and more respect and understanding than an obese person. Report
I know for a fact my daughters take the kids to drive thorughs becuase they live in the car. Then also they to not have family sit down dinners even if they are home. Fresh fruit and vegetables is expensive fast food is quick and can get 3.33 meals at Mcd's They prefer that over fruits any day. Report
I'm not sure if I agree that convenience food is cheaper than a more healty diet. Since I've switched from junk food to a more healthy, balanced diet I've noticed a drop in our grocery bills. People don't exercise enough and eat too much..plain and simple. We want to find blame somewhere else instead of ourselves. Report
LeeLynn2 - your comments reminded me of a project I did with my son's 4th grade class (many moons ago - he is a senior in college now) - we planted a Pizza garden! I just looked it up and found an easy to do guide online

It was easy, GREAT fun, educational ( it fit in with the science curriculum/standards) and harvesting and then making the pizza was just so rewarding - plus very tasty!
If the government was subsidizing schools by paying them for Gardening experts and putting in school gardens, or local nearby farmers to grow actual food and having the children involved in preparing this food, rather than giving away processed meat and much of the other awful stuff they provide to schools, it would go a long ways to the education of children in real food. If daily physical education was a priority with states and schools rather than test scores we would go even further.

It's no good to lament the fact that parents don't..... fill in the blank.... If the reality is that children don't get the education at home, they need to get it somewhere, and public school is where that needs to be. Report
What BUGS me is how much MORE expensive it is to eat well! If lean proteins and fresh fruits and veggies were as inexpensive as the darn dollar menus, that might make it easier to eat better. I agree that portions are way too big, but I have seen a kid in the store ask for oranges (and I live in Florida!) and the poor Mom told him she just couldn't afford them. Her cart only had cheap non-nutritious food in it. What I know is she can't afford NOT to get that fresh fruit for her child, but with limited resources, financial or otherwise, what's a Mom gonna do?
Thanks for the chance to vent! ;) Report
Great blog Nancy.

I think it's sad regarding the children. To me, that seems like a form of child abuse. As a parent, it's our responsibility to feed our children. Feeding them right into Type II Diabetes has to be stopped some how. Report
I believe it all boils down to the parents. My dad & mom were both over weight from eating out of control, and thats what I became. But I'm working on changing that pattern for my girls and me...we'll see what happens Report
The facts are that people are eating WAY too much convenience foods and doing very little or no exercise. Fast food chains are not to blame, but they are a contributing factor. Portion sizes have nearly tripled and people feel the need to eat everything on their plates. For example, at McDonalds you should only eat Half the burger and order only small fries and small drink, and if people treated that as an occasional treat - once a month, there would be less issues. Education is what needs to happen: teach people about the joy of eating whole, fresh foods again and enjoying it as a family instead of in the car or infront of TV; teach portion sizes; and teach people about moderation. Everybody is in such a rush these days, we all need to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Report
Figures of overweight people (especially children!) have been on the rise since American food (i.e. McDonald's) was introduced to other countries.

Sad! Report
The sad thing is that obesity will be part of the world's civilization no matter what. Even before the inception of fast food chains there were larger (obese) people in the world...even back in the 1600's. It isn't a matter how much fast food that people eat, it is the fact that people don't have portion control and each person's metabolism is different and acts differently to different products. It all boils down to genetics. Report
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