The childhood obesity epidemic is poised to become the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, replacing tobacco as the leading killer in the US. 35% of Illinois children are overweight or obese, ranking Illinois 4th in the nation for children with an unhealthy body weight.
The vast majority of our children, regardless of their current weight status, face profound long-term health consequences due to lifestyles and habits which include physical inactivity and increasingly poor nutrition. Lifestyle choices are the primary contributing factor to the childhood obesity epidemic; swift and decisive action is needed to reverse the trend towards unhealthy weight and its detrimental health effects. Obesity is the gateway disease leading to a host of medical problems, the most concerning of which include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, stroke, and cancer. If the trend toward obesity is not reversed, this generation of children will be the first destined to a shorter lifespan than their parents.
As ironic as it may seem, the reality is that, particularly in the United States, poverty and obesity are clasped hands. Processed foods and food substitutes are less expensive than “real foods”, and the more people rely on them, the more susceptible they are to becoming overweight or even obese. Educating people about the nutritive values of real (non-processed) food and providing access to real food are fundamental cornerstones of the genHkids programs.