Many of today’s children are overfed and undernourished. As nutrients fall short and as empty calorie processed foods fill our children up, we see that health risks in their future will be inevitable. They predict that 1 in 3 children born in the United States today will develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. If that child is Black or Hispanic, that risk goes to 1 in 2. This generation of children may have a shorter lifespan than their own parents. It is no secret that we are facing rising trends in the number of children who are overweight as seem by the graph below from the National Health Examination Surveys.
Here are some statistics to think about:
- American children are getting 40% of their calories from extra fat and added sugars.
- Only 1% of children between 2 and 19 years of age met all the Food Pyramid recommendations. Sixteen percent of children met none of the recommendations.
- Nearly 1 in 7 10-year-olds get 50-70% of calories from snacks.
- 1/3 of all calories are now eaten outside the home.
- A survey of nearly 300 students in 3rd, 5th and 8th grades found that students consumed fewer fruits and vegetables, less milk and more soft drinks as they moved from childhood to adolescence.
- Soft drink consumption increased 21% among 2- to 5-year olds over the last 20 years and 37% among 6- to 9-year-olds. Milk consumption has dropped in all age groups.
- Average soda consumption in 13 to 18-year-old males is 3 cans or more a day; 10% drink more than 7 cans a day. Soft drinks are given to infants as young as 7 months of age.
- Nearly 2/3 of children failed to get the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for vitamin E and zinc. Half did not meet the RDA for calcium and close to 1/3 fell short of the FDA for iron and vitamin B6.
- Nearly 25% of all vegetables consumed by children and teens were in the form of french fries. French fries are the most popular “vegetable” for children under age 5.
- 51% of children and teens eat less than one serving of fruit and day and 29% eat less than one serving a day of vegetables that are not fried.
- The average child between 2 and 5 years of age watches nearly 28 hours of TV a week.