The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recently issued a health report entitled "Top Health Risks for Young Adults". When I think of the youth of today, we tend to think they are pretty healthy, but the reality is that our youth are facing numerous health issues now that will have long term consequences as they grow older. This report was geared at the young adult ages 18 - 29, but many of the same issues are facing even younger children.
The leading cause of death for young adults is unintentional injuries, which killed 40/100,000 young adults in 2005. These injuries are often traffic fatalities, many associated with drinking and driving and even under age drinking and driving. There are over 1,700 deaths per year due to binge drinking. The list of injuries is extensive as these are years for risk taking behaviors. Teens and young adults feel invincible, and the party line is usually, "this won't happen to me!" These topics should be discussed over and over again with our children beginning at young ages. The more they hear the better.
Obesity was also on the list. As we all know obesity is skyrocketing in this country. The statistics are daunting and the obesity rates for young adults tripled between the 1970's and 2005-2006. With the economic problems we are all facing, more families may be making less healthy choices due to the cost of food. A box of macaroni and cheese is far less expensive than grilled chicken breasts, but the long-term consequences may be far more lasting. The statistics for younger children are not encouraging either. We the parents must make better food choices for ourselves and our children in order to combat an epidemic of obesity and health related issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Exercise is also necessary for overall good health and only 36% of young adults get regular exercise, and only 26% report strength training at least twice/week. Our older school age children are also not meeting goals for exercise, as many schools no longer require P.E. credits or daily gym class. How many kids "pick" gym class if it is not required, especially if they are already having weight problems and therefore may be embarrassed to exercise while at school?
Lastly, smoking!! In 2006, 29% of men and 21% of women ages 18 - 29 were smokers. Most of them report that they began smoking at a much younger age. The conversation about smoking in adolescence needs to be reinforced with our children. Nicotine is addictive and the media continues to show smoking without showing any of the horrible consequences of smoking: cancer, emphysema and death.
So, happy spring, we can all get out and exercise and enjoy cookouts during the nice spring weather. The family as a whole will benefit.
That's your daily dose, we'll chat again soon.