Childhood Lost: How American Culture Is Failing Our Kids

By Sharna Olfman | Go to book overview

6
Big Food, Big Money, Big
Children

KATHERINE BATTLE HORGEN


THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC

Despite the booming diet and fitness industries, which in the United States alone generate over $33 billion annually,1 the prevalence of obesity has grown in every segment of the population.2 Nearly one third of American adults are classified as obese—up from 23 percent in 19943—and almost two thirds are overweight.4 While this statistic is alarming in its own right, childhood obesity is increasing at twice the rate of adult obesity.5 Over 10 percent of two- to fiveyear-olds (up from 7 percent in 1994),6 and over 15 percent of children ages six to nineteen, are overweight.7 An additional 14 percent are on the cusp of becoming overweight.8 The proportion of overweight six- to nineteen-year-olds has tripled since 1980.

Obesity-related deaths total approximately 325,000 per year in the United States and—at the current rate at which the obesity epidemic is growing—-will soon surpass tobacco-related deaths.9 It is estimated that obesity costs the United States nearly $100 billion dollars annually in direct and indirect healthcare costs.10

A range of medical conditions that until recently were rarely seen in childhood are now becoming commonplace among obese children. As reported in Food Fight, which I co-authored with psychologist Kelly Brownell, one of the most serious consequences of obesity in childhood is [the clustering of risk factors for heart

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Childhood Lost: How American Culture Is Failing Our Kids
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part I - Children's Irreducible Needs 1
  • 1: The Natural History of Children 3
  • 2: Why Parenting Matters 19
  • Part II - How American Culture is Failing Our Kids 55
  • 3: The War Against Parents 57
  • 4: The Impact of Media Violence on Developing Minds and Hearts 89
  • 5: The Commercialization of Childhood 107
  • 6: Big Food, Big Money, Big Children 123
  • 7: So Sexy, So Soon 137
  • 8: Techno-Environmental Assaults on Childhood in America 155
  • 9: [No Child Left] 185
  • 10: Where Do the Children Play? 203
  • Index 217
  • About the Editor and the Contributors 223
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