Some years ago while reporting on the shortage of school nurses here in Georgia, I was shocked by what I found.
It wasn’t the shortage of nurses, although that was bad enough. It was the stories nurses told me about caring for children — some as young as 6 — who were so overweight they suffered from elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type II diabetes. At least one student, a nurse recalled, had knee and joint problems due to the extra weight.
One mom at the time talked to me about the challenge she faced:
“It’s so saturated now with phones and video games and 200 (TV) channels,” said Dawsonville mother Amy Burns, who was raising two young boys. “I think it’s a constant battle just to get your kids to move.”
Childhood obesity isn’t just a problem here in Georgia, where the latest data shows 16.5 percent of 10- to 17-year-olds are obese. It’s a global epidemic.
In the U.S., childhood obesity rates have stabilized in recent years. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that obesity rates remain high. And we still have millions of obese children who statistically are likely to become obese adults, costing states — including Georgia — billions of dollars every year in medical bills, higher insurance premiums and lost productivity at work.