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The Socioeconomic Impact of Childhood Obesity

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Fitness professionals understand the many health risks associated with childhood obesity. However, a study published in the July 7 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology (2010; 172 [5], 540–48) finds that health is just one part of the childhood obesity puzzle. The 22-year study tracked 5,000 high-school graduates, divided into two groups. One group consisted of previously “normal-weight” individuals who gained weight gradually over time; the members of the other group had been chronically overweight since graduation. The chronically overweight individuals were more likely to have had no further formal education after high school. They also had greater odds of being single and of receiving welfare or unemployment compensation at age 40. “The health consequences of obesity and overweight have been well-documented, but less research has examined their social and economic consequences,” noted the study authors. “These findings highlight the importance of addressing persistent obesity and overweight early in the life course.”

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor, and IDEA's director of event programming.

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