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Georgia Department of Agriculture

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MERCER MEDICAL MOMENT: Shaping up a healthier future for our children

By Joseph Snooks
Mercer University School of Medicine
Fourth-year MD Student

In today's world, it can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives and sometimes neglect our own health. As adults we have all experienced moments when we simply feel we do not have the time or resources to make necessary healthy changes to our daily routines.

Children are no exception to this notion since they learn from our own behaviors as parents. We can all agree we want what is best for our children, but sometimes we fail to realize the importance of a healthy lifestyle and its impact on the future of our children. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, so it is a great opportunity to discuss and learn about this public health issue.

According to the CDC, 1 in 5 American children are considered obese. This is a high percentage of the population, especially when you consider the long-term effects obesity has on one's health. Georgia is currently ranked 17th in obesity in the age group of 10-17.

There are several factors that contribute to a child becoming obese including genetics, dietary habits, lack of exercise or a combination of these. Children with obesity are at a much higher risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases including asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. Obese children also tend to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol putting them at a much higher risk for heart disease than their normal weight peers.

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