Generation Triple XL: African American Kids’ Obesity Rates Rise
June 2006-Experts predict that unless the obesity rates among all children is reversed, the current generation (“Generation XXXL”) may be the first ever whose life expectancy will be shorter than that of their parents.
African American and Latino children have been particularly hard hit by the childhood obesity crisis. Studies show that almost 36 percent of black children between the ages of six and eleven are overweight, and more than 19 percent are considered obese. Among twelve- to nineteen-year-olds, 40 percent are overweight and nearly 24 percent are obese.
Mexican American children fare even worse. According to the American Obesity Association, nearly 40 percent of Mexican American children aged six to eleven are overweight and almost 44 percent are obese.
Economics and weight are closely related. According to the American Obesity Association, “overweight affects African Americans across all socioeconomic levels. Minorities with low incomes, however, appear to have the greatest likelihood of being overweight, and among Mexican Americans the rate of overweight is about 13 percent higher for families living below the poverty line versus above the poverty line.”
In addition, supermarket chains that serve affordable nutritious fruits, vegetables, and lean meats are missing from low-income neighborhoods. “In an effort to make food budgets stretch, many families cook meals high in fat and starch,” explains Robyn McGee, author of Hungry for More: A Keeping-it-Real Guide for Black Women on Weight and Body Image “Feeling deprived in other areas of their lives, people living in poverty might reward themselves with cookies, cakes, and other satisfying sweets. And of course this is the “video game” generation. Kids just aren’t getting the exercise they should.” Lack of physical activity combined with “supersized” meals means too many kids suffering in poor health.
McGee recommends integrating physical activity into the family’s daily routine. “For example, climb stairs instead of taking the elevator, walk your child to and from school when possible, find a family bowling league, or include a game of volleyball or basketball in your weekend barbecues. Go bike riding, swim, or jump rope. These are all activities that will benefit even some of the youngest members of the family,” says McGee.
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