According to the CDC, the percent of obese children has tripled since the 1970’s. As of today, one in five students have obesity. Obesity is an epidemic, and the consequences are deadly. Metabolic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers are killing not only adults, but children as well. Children with obesity are at a higher risk for having other health conditions and diseases that impact physical health, such as asthma, sleep apnea,bone and joint problems,type 2 diabetes, and risk factors for heart disease. Most say that obesity is our own fault, saying we need to eat less and exercise more. However,with an unregulated sugar industry targeting our children, it’s clear that we need rules and regulations for the sugar industry.
Americans have been concerned for their health for a while, but the beginning can be traced back to the publication of the Dietary Goals For The United States in 1977, also known as the McGovern Report. Senator George McGovern pushed for the report, hoping it would have the same effect as the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking. The report states that Americans are at high risks for major issues due to their diet. The report also recommends a reduced intake of fats, salt, and sugar. Although this report was published with the best intentions, all the different food industries, including meat, dairy, and sugar, went ballistic. They feared people would head the advice, and their profits would drop.Therefore, the industries did everything they could to stay afloat.
Industries began blaming each other for the spike in weight gain. The sugar industry was the strongest, hiring lobbyists, blaming fatty meats, and quietly paying scientists to point the blame at others, including fat. They wanted to refute concerns about sugar’s possible role in heart disease. If Americans would believe the issue was anything but sugar, they would stop eating the culprit, and sugar consumption could raise by a third. The SRF(Sugar Research Foundation) was paying costs as high as $50,000 for specific research. The SRF also started a literature-review project, allowing them to filter what was published about sugar. This led to flawed publications about sugar. One study that found a health benefit in people who ate less sugar and more vegetables was dismissed because the dietary change was “not feasible”. They also funded a study that said children who eat sweets have healthier body weights than those who do not.
People bought the sugar industries lies. Americans began looking for items with less fat, so processed foods began removing the fat, and thus adding more sugar to keep the taste. This has led to the modern day sugar industry. Almost all processed foods have added sugar, junk food, such as candy and chips, are sold almost everywhere, and the sugar industry is profiting off of people’s pain. In fact, they target children because they begin to recognize brands at the age of 3, or even younger. They want to implement their product at a young age, so they can profit more. They do this by getting sponsors, and running massive ad campaigns towards children. Anytime someone says our children need to be left alone, the sugar industry and its lobbyists swoop in and protect themselves from losing profit.
The truth is, our children are being brainwashed. If they believe sugar is good from a young age, then that eating habit will follow them into adolescence and eventually their adult life. Obese children are bullied more, and therefore are more likely to suffer from isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem. Also, they’re more likely to skip school, which could result in failing academics. We need to regulate to food ads shown during child programming. This will reduce exposure to the product, and therefore hopefully reduce intake. We should also have classes and programs in schools about healthy eating and nutrition. School is where children send most of their time, and we need to teach proper nutrition, not lies the food industry has been feeding us.
In conclusion, childhood obesity is easily preventable. Senator Mcgovern had the right idea in the 70’s, now it’s our job to fight the overpowering food industry, and protect our children. We need to control the sugar industry and their ad campaigns, and we need to show our children what proper nutrition looks like so they can go on to live healthy and happy lives.