[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/24/tiger2.jpg caption="Tiger Greene is 12 and already pre-diabetic."]
CNN Senior Producer
When people are in love they tend to only see what they want to. We’re all guilty of it – at work, with a spouse, and also when it comes to our children’s waistlines. One survey found 50% of parents with overweight kids failed to recognize the problem. We put blinders on. Only see what we want to. Unfortunately, ignoring the expanding waistline in our children could be killing them.
Nearly one-third of kids in America weight too much. At 250 pounds, Tiger Greene, age 12, is one of them. His father, Brian, admits to having ‘blinders’ on. Eating out is considered father, son bonding time. When he looked at Tiger he didn’t see an obese boy; he saw a young man whom he believed would hit a growth spurt and lose the “baby weight.”
The breaking point for the Greene family came right before Christmas when Tiger’s dad had his 5th heart stent put in. Tiger says he was terrified his dad would die and terrified he would follow in father’s footsteps. He told his dad enough was enough. He didn’t want to be fat anymore. He needed his dad to take off the blinders and recognize the problem and help him lose weight. “What I thought was laughing and eating and having fun was actually just digging a grave with our teeth for my son,” said Greene. “And I think as a parent realizing what you've done to your kid is the worst feeling in the world. It’s hitting rock bottom.”
Tiger had developed sleep apnea, pre-diabetes, signs of fatty liver disease and heart damage – all by age 12. He’s not alone. Experts now project an entire generation of kids may die 20 years earlier than their parents because of diseases caused by being overweight.
Tune into AC360 tonight as Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes you beyond the fat and exposes the internal health damage happening right now to America’s children.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/HEALTH/01/22/teens.cholesterol/t1larg.jpg caption="Obesity rates for kids have tripled over the last three decades."]
Special to CNN
The convenience store near my house is where I first became aware of the problem.
There, an overweight girl, maybe 10 years old, had just persuaded her mother to buy her potato chips and a Slurpee.
It was 11:15 at night.
From that moment forward, I saw overweight and obese kids everywhere: At church, in Wal-Mart, at the movies. Everywhere.
Editor's note: Jonathan Safran Foer wrote the novels "Everything is Illuminated" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." His latest book, the nonfiction "Eating Animals," (Little, Brown and Co.) will be published November 2. This is the second of two essays Jonathan Safran Foer has written for CNN.com on the consequences of eating meat. In the first, he condemned the practice of raising animals in factory farms and argued that it sickens Americans.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Special to CNN
Beyond the unhealthy influence that our demand for factory-farmed meat has in the area of food-borne illness and communicable diseases, we could cite many other influences on public health, most obviously the now-widely recognized relationship between the nation's major killers - heart disease, No. 1; cancer, No. 2; and stroke, No. 3 - and meat consumption.
Or, much less obviously, the distorting influence of the meat industry on the information about nutrition we receive from the government and medical professionals.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/05/05/more.for.your.calories/art.vegetables.gi.jpg caption="Weight of the Nation, hosted by the Center for Disease Control, is first conference on obesity prevention."]
The Atlantic Monthly
I don't know quite what to call it. "Food addiction" is a little off, because we are compelled to eat several times a day and the obsessive component of most addictions is often absent. Dr. David Kessler, the former FDA commissioner, borrows from the language of behavioral science. We aren't addicted, he says. We're conditioned. We respond to the most salient stimuli. And food industry, from the growers of corn to the chemists who invented molecular gastronomy, to the food stylists who know how to enhance the physical attractiveness of a hamburger, is the one doing the conditioning. Kessler accuses the food industry of figuring out how to make bad, cheap food addictive.
I was thinking about Kessler's book, which is currently the talk of the weight-loss crowd, on the morning that Centers for Disease Control hosts its first ever Weight of the Nation Conference on obesity. I'll be blogging from that conference over of the next few days as I gather final string for a magazine article about the politics of weight and obesity.
Kessler isn't speaking - I think he's in Aspen, speaking to intellectuals gathered there for another food conference - and I'll be interested to see if his ideas are well represented. Kessler represents the wing of the anti-obesity movement that favors confrontation and believes that only if the public gets angry about this manipulation of their diet can they - we - possibly begin to combat the obesity plague. Many obesity researchers I've spoken with over the past several months are afraid of confrontation, even though the physical and social science evidence is pretty compelling: we aren't what we eat; we are what the food companies want us to be.
A striking new study says almost one in five American four-year-olds is obese, and the rate is alarmingly higher among American Indian children, with nearly a third of them obese. Researchers were surprised to see differences by race at so early an age.
Overall, more than half a million four-year-olds are obese, the study suggests. Obesity is more common in Hispanic and black youngsters, too, but the disparity is most startling in American Indians, whose rate is almost double that of whites.
The lead author said that rate is worrisome among children so young, even in a population at higher risk for obesity because of other health problems and economic disadvantages.
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It finally happened, I decided to give it up. Sugar. And no, "Sugar" is not some lover I've had stashed on Key Largo. That was over months ago and you know it. I'm talking about actual sugar. The stuff with which we season broccoli and exfoliate our skin in the shower. What? Don't look at me like that.
Frankly, this was a long time coming. When you find yourself ecstatic that Anderson is going on a road trip because it means you can barricade yourself in his breakfast nook and do shots of rare maple syrups, you know you have a problem. Which is exactly what I said to Larry King when I found him in there, his suspenders covered in pancake batter.
But, as the old saying goes, people in glass houses bought with mortgages they couldn't afford in the first place shouldn't throw stones, so I told Larry that I, too, was a sugar addict. And, I added apropos of nothing, the next time he has Joan Rivers on his program he should really give a viewer discretion warning about her plastic surgery.
It's a question surely as old as vanity itself: how can you look young forever? A forthcoming study in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery offers one surprising idea: as you age, don't be afraid to put on a few pounds. Fat, it turns out, can significantly smooth out wrinkles and give you a younger-looking face.
The authors of the new study, a team led by Dr. Bahman Guyuron of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, are plastic surgeons who study faces for a living. They analyzed photographs of the faces of 186 pairs of identical twins taken at the Twins Days Festival, a sort of twins' pride event held every summer in (naturally) Twinsburg, Ohio. Because the pairs had identical genetic material, differences in how old they looked could be attributed entirely to their behavioral choices and environment. Guyuron's team had the twins fill out extensive questionnaires about their lives — everything from how many times they had married to whether they had regularly used sunscreen. Then a panel of four judges independently estimated the twins' ages by looking at photos taken in Twinsburg.
AC360 Associate Producer
The great thing about America is that people never hesitate at the opportunity to inform others how strange they are. Take, for example, my co-workers. To hear them tell it I have abnormal eating habits when in reality all I said was “I hate pizza and anyone who eats it in front of me should be put on a deserted island surrounded by sharks.”
Yes, that’s right. I don’t like pizza. I love bread and I love marinara sauce but I don’t like pizza. Why don’t you call Rick Sanchez and put it on Twitter.
I’ve also never eaten a bagel, never drunk a cup of tea and consider egg salad to be Public Enemy Number One. And don’t get me started on potato chips or anything that has in its name the word “loaf.”
Stop looking at me like I’m an endangered species. You’re the one who eats cole slaw, not me.
Anyway, my own food preferences notwithstanding, I’m a staunch believer in the nutritional value of the four food groups: grains, dairy, Twizzlers and Dentyne gum. All I’m asking is that you keep your avocado smoothie and pile of bacon away from me.