Rates of childhood obesity or excess weight have exploded over the past few decades, tripling in about the past 30 years and threatening the health and quality of life for one-third of all American children. These kids are at risk for previously adults-only conditions such as type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes), high blood pressure and joint pain. For the first time in history, U.S. children may face a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
According to a recent Kaiser Permanente report, 7.3% of boys and 5.5% of girls can be classified as extremely obese. The news is particularly troublesome for African-American and Hispanic kids: Among black teenage girls, 11.9% were classified as extremely obese, as were 11.2% of Hispanic teenage boys. The crisis has reached such epidemic proportions that First Lady Michelle Obama has launched a nationwide "Let's Move!" campaign, and President Obama has established a government task force on childhood obesity.