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Childhood Obesity Shortens Lifespan

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Life expectancy for Americans is at an all time high according to the Centers for Disease Control.

But is the growing waist line of the nation's children affecting their life span?

A new study seems to suggest it is.

Too much food and too little exercise is robbing kids of a healthy future.

A new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine connects the dots from childhood obesity to a shorter life span.

Researchers believe as a result, this generation of children may not live as long as their parents.

"If no significant changes are made their future will be dismal," says Scott & White Dietitian Erin Chambers.

Dietitians say the study supports their long held assumptions about childhood obesity.

The study shows those with increased weight or Body Mass Index greater than 25 have a higher mortality rate due to heart disease.

"A lot of time children watch way too much television, play too many computer games and just not spending enough time exercising and just being physically active," says Chambers.

Just taking a walk everyday could make all the difference in a child's health.

That's why the Texas Cooperative Extension has created several opportunities for kids to get active.

"Our bodies were meant to be physically active," says Extension Health Specialist Dr. Carol Rice.

Dr. Rice says one program underway is Walk Across Texas.

For eight weeks people of all ages and especially children log every step they make, with the hope of walking 10,000 steps or five miles a day.

"The reason we started Walk Across Texas in 1996 was to get people moving and try to get families to do it together," says Dr. Rice.

Which could end up increasing their years together.

The authors of the study also think their findings should be factored in to social security projections.

The Social Security Administration has projected an increase in life expectancy may contribute to a soon to be bankrupt system.

Some medical experts believe technology will counteract the increased mortality rate for obese children by providing early detection and treatment.

The Walk Across Texas website is www.brazoswat.com.

A complete copy of the study can be found at www.nejm.org.

Helpful websites for Parents about Healthy Eating:

3-A-Day of Dairy: www.3aday.org

Calcium and weight loss connection: http://www.whymilk.com/moms/featuredweightloss.htm

5-A-Day of Fruits and Vegetables: www.5aday.org

Food Fit: www.foodfit.com

Picky eating and general information: http://www.parentsoup.com