Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Society of iPods, Xbox(es) and Sick Children

Children Sicker Now Than in Past, Harvard Report Says

By Angela Zimm

June 26 (Bloomberg) -- The number of American children with chronic illnesses has quadrupled since the time when some of their parents were kids, portending more disability and higher health costs for a new generation of adults, a study estimates.

An almost fourfold increase in childhood obesity in the past three decades, twice the asthma rates since the 1980s, and a jump in the number of attention-deficit disorder cases are driving the growth of chronic illnesses, according to researchers at Harvard University in Boston.

The report is published in a themed issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association focusing on children's health.

Doctors and public health officials should be bracing for a wave of chronically ill young adults with weight-related ailments that include diabetes and heart disease.

``We will see much greater expenditures for people in their 20s than we ever saw before, and no one is thinking how we should prepare for that,'' said James Perrin, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and the report's lead author, in an interview.

It's certainly worrisome and we look at it as a call to action.'' The journal's reports also included findings that family- based weight-management programs work best, that white children have the highest rate of diabetes, that childhood cancer survivors face risks for serious health problems when they become adults, and that children with serious illness are more likely to die at home than in 1989.

``An estimated 60 percent of 5- to 10-year-old obese children already have one associated cardiovascular disease risk factor, and more than 20 percent have two or more risk factors,' researchers said in the report.

Environmental, Social Changes While genes may play a role in obesity, asthma and ADHD, environmental and social changes are behind the surge, researchers said.

Also in this week's JAMA, a study found that inner-city black and Hispanic children who participated in a weight-loss program involving their parents were able to control their weight better than those who received traditional weight-loss counseling in a clinic.

Most of the cases are type-1 diabetes, a form in which people must take insulin every day because their bodies don't produce the hormone, which is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy.

White children had a 26.1 rate, blacks were at 25.4, and American Indian youths scored 25, the study said.
Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


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