The 18 Dangerous Trends In Children’s Health – Preventable Diseases In Children That We Need To Face

We have identified the 18 most dangerous trends in children’s health. The good thing is that these are preventable and we’ll discuss the solutions in the next section after tackling the problems.

  1. Increasing obesity in children – one third of children in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Obesity has more than tripled in children and adolescents since the 1970’s. (2) (3) Obesity is a leading of cause of many other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, risks for different types of cancer, fatty liver disease, kidney disease, pregnancy, insulin resistance, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis. (29).
  2. Increased risk for diseases – obese and overweight children are at higher risk for preventable chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, glucose intolerance, joint problems, fatty liver, gallstones, anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, and cardiovascular disease according to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC). (3)(12)
  3. Low self-esteem, increased social problems, bullying, and stigma which leads to mental health problems. Being obese or overweight not only increases risk for disease, but it also increases social problems because obese children experience bullying and stigma. This also affects the likelihood that ideas of suicide will come into their mind as they become adolescents. (12) (14)
  4. Increasing depression and suicide rates – The suicide rate for girls ages 15 to 19 have doubled from 2007 to 2015 according to the CDC, reaching its highest point in 40 years. On the other hand the suicide rate for boys ages 15 to 19 has increased 30% however boys remain to be more likely to commit suicide than girls: 81% of reported suicides are male while 19% are female of those 10 to 24 years old. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. (15)(16)(17)
  5. Increasing risk for diabetes in children – studies are showing that children are at an increased risk for diabetes, which will damage their heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves and even lead to early death. Type 2 Diabetes, although preventable is on the rise in children and in adolescents and the risks increase in children who are obese, live an inactive lifestyle, and who sit for more than 3 hours each day in front of their TV, electronic gadgets, laptops, and celphones for prolonged periods. In the study done by UK researchers they compiled data from 4,500 children and they found that children with more than 3 hours of screen time per day had higher body fat and insulin resistance compared to those with less than 1 hour per day.(4) (5)
  6. Learning disabilities in children – 4 out of 10 of the leading causes of disabilities in the US and developed countries are due to mental disorders. Around 1 in 4 people in America are diagnosed with a mental disorder. Common mental disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Patients suffering from mental disorders are severely deficient in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, B-vitamins, amino acids, and Omega-3. Unfortunately the prescription drugs cause severe side effects which discourage patients from taking the medications which puts them at higher risk for suicide. The symptoms of these disorders can be relieved or reduced through nutritional therapy through daily supplementation of essential nutrients as well as amino acids which are essential precursors for neurotransmitters. (18)(19)(20) Furthermore, a study suggests that those with mental disorders need higher quantities of Omega 3 compared to people with no mental disorders where they were given 9.6g of Omega 3 per day which improved their symptoms.(21)
  7. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – ADHD affects over 6.4 million children and their performance in school is affected since they have difficulty focusing, are easily distracted, and have trouble interacting with their classmates. They are also having difficulty following rules and they fail to complete tasks. (31)(32)(34) According to the CDC, children aged 2 to 5 has increased by over 50% from the 2007 to 2008 survey. Furthermore, diagnosis of ADHD among children aged 4 to 17 years old has been increasing from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and eventually to 11% in 2011 to 2012. Some states range from 5.6% of children in Nevada diagnosed with ADHD and 18.7% of children in Kentucky.(30) in a study done by British researchers in 2007, they found that the preservative Sodium Benzoate as well as 6 artificial coloring agents contributed to hyperactivity in children. This resulted to the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency to urge food manufacturers to remove the six artificial coloring agents which include sunset yellow FCF (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), tartrazine (E102), and ponceau 4R (E124) from being marketed to children in Britain and caused them to label the food products with “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children” as well as resulting to manufacturers and retailers removing them. (22)(23)(27) Despite studies conducted by the FDA as early as 1980 and 1982 as well as a study done in 2000 by Weiss that confirm the result, the US FDA is still adamant about keeping the food additives in the market. However, we should consider that children are more vulnerable to toxic chemicals because they have smaller body weight, their metabolic pathways are immature, their developmental processes are more easily disrupted, and they have more exposure time to the toxins than the adults. (24)(25)(26) We need to be more aware of this especially because the per capita consumption of artificial food colours have quadrupled in the last 50 years. (28)
  8. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) – ADD is a type of ADHD but they are not hyperactive. Children with ADD have difficulty learning in school because they find it hard to focus on the lessons and they may appear dreamy or their thoughts are elsewhere. They have trouble with distractions that would normally not affect other children.(32)(33) Both ADD and ADHD symptoms can be managed through nutrition, according to the National Resource Center on ADHD and they provide excellent resources in their video “ADHD And Eating” by Roberto Olivia, PhD, and “5 Ways Nutrition Can Impact ADHD Symptoms” by Laura Stevens, MS. In Stevens book the “12 Effective Ways to Help Your ADD/ADHD Child: Drug-Free Alternatives for Attention-Deficit Disorders” she discusses ways to manage ADHD through nutrition, avoiding artificial sweeteners, tracking food allergies, eliminating chemical sensitivities, and also eliminating lead and aluminium toxins .(35)(36)
  9. Asthma – According to the American Academy Of Allergy Asthma And Immunology, the number of people with asthma continues to grow, from 20 million in 2001 to 25 million in 2009. One in ten children have asthma, and this has especially grown in black children with a 50% increase from 2001 to 2009. Asthma costs in the US are around $3,300 per person each year. (37) According to WebMD, diet plays a role in managing the symptoms of asthma and those with obesity are associated with more severe symptoms. There is also evidence that people who eat diets rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B, beta-carotene, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, and selenium have lower rates of asthma. (38) A study reveals that people with asthma have increased rates of oxidative stress and antioxidants might help. (39) In addition, taking Vitamin D through diet, supplements, or sunlight helps because people with severe asthma have low vitamin D levels. Eliminating sulphites and food allergies from your children’s diet may help because they can trigger asthma symptoms.(40)
  10. Autism – the prevalence of autism in children have increased from 6.7% to 14.6% from 2000 to 2012. In the UK alone, there are more than 700,000 people who have autism. Unfortunately, most children are not diagnosed until after age 4. (41)(44) In a survey of 27,000 parents of children with autism they recommended certain nutrients such as high-dose Vitamin B6 and Magnesium, essential fatty acids, probiotics, carnitine, and melatonin however different children need different nutrients. It is also recommended to avoid food that causes allergies and minimizing sugar which gave improvement to their children in 52% of the reports while prioritizing organic food which are lower in pesticides, contain more Omega 3, and are higher in the essential mineral phosphorus.(45) Also, children with autism tend to have low intakes of calcium and protein compared to normal children.(42) It is recommended that children with autism have a gluten-free, casein-free diet.(43)
  11. Cancer risks in children – According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), there has been a 27% increase in cancer rates in the recent decades for kids under age 19. Increase in Leukemia has risen 35%. Soft tissue cancers in bones are muscles are up 42%. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is up 34%. Catherine Metayer, MD, PhD who studies the causes of leukemia in children explains: “In the environment, a lot of things have changed. A lot of chemicals have been brought in. We are all exposed to many of them. So most likely the increase has been driven by some exposure to environmental factors, combined with genetics.” Cancer takes years to form, and children have more time to be exposed to life-style related cancer risk factors as well as environmental factors such as chemicals and toxins that were previously not a problem in the past generations, making children more susceptible to develop cancer during their adolescence and their adulthood. Cancer-risk factors include being overweight, eating an unhealthy diet, and not getting enough exercise. As they grow into adolescence they may develop habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol, which plays a major role in many types of cancer. When parents smoke, this also exposes their children to cancer risk.(46)(47)
  12. Increasing Risks For Chronic Diseases – According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are at an increased risk for chronic diseases such as asthma, ADHD, developmental delays, autism, depression or anxiety, behavioral or conduct issues, speech and language problems, epilepsy/seizure disorders and learning disabilities.(48)
  13. Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort – Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort has been increasing as a result of increasing obesity in children in ages 3 to 18 years old. The pain caused from this causes children to avoid exercises that are painful for them, decrease their physical activity, and reduce their activities which further aggravates their problem of obesity. Being obese increases the risk for children to develop SCFE (slipped capital femoral epiphysis) and blount disease which increases the risk for abnormal joint function and cause early osteoarthritis. It is important to support the children early and implement an intervention in terms of psychological and physical intervention to address these problems. (49)(50)(51)
  14. Increasing fatty liver disease – there is a rising epidemic of fatty liver disease in children, and it was found that 15.4% of children had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) while 28% had metabolic syndrome (MS). The prevalence of metabolic syndrome increases with age at 21% for 5-9 years old, 30% for 10-16 years old, and 35% for 17-20 years old. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), type 2 diabetes mellitus, as well as chronic kidney disease. According to a study in 2015 by Anderson, E.L. et. al., the prevalence of NAFLD is high in young people, it is higher in males, and higher in those who are obese. In another study by Gupta, R. et. al., there is also a high prevalence of metabolic syndrome in obese children. (52)(53)(54)
  15. Gall stones – the incidence of gallstones in children is increasing. A few of the factors that contribute to gallstones in children is obesity, metabolic syndrome, parenteral nutrition, and use of certain medicines. The most common complication of gallstones in children is pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas which happens in 8% of the cases. (55)(56)
  16. Low self-esteem and low self-reported quality of life – low esteem during adolescence leads to poor health, increased risk for criminal behaviour, and limited economic prospects, according to the American Psychological Association. In a study involving 2813 children, obesity contributes to low self esteem, low self-worth, and reduced perceived social acceptance. Obese children were two to four times more likely to have low domain competence.(57)(58)
  17. Bullying and stigma of being fat – in one large study, 49% of children in grades 4 to 12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month, and 30.8% reported bullying others during the same time. Children who are obese suffer from verbal victimization, physical victimization, as well as exclusion from group activities. On the other hand, severely obese males were involved in both roles as the bully and as the victim. Children who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, anxious, complain about health problems, and have decreased academic achievement because they miss, skip, or drop out of school. A small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures, for example, 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990’s were by shooters who had history of being bullied. (59)(60)(61)(62)
  18. Unhealthy junk food culture is promoted in the media 27 times more than government spending on health ads. Spending on junk food advertisements is 27 times more than government spending on health ads. This is bad because according to the Cancer Research UK, children who watch more than 3 hours of commercials are more likely to eat hundreds of junk foods.6 Not only that, profit-oriented Big Pharma spending continues to increase on their products with over 90% of companies investing more in marketing than in research and development of their products, with over $3.5 billion spent annually for advertising. Worldwide, the total revenue of big pharma has surpassed 1 Trillion US dollars. The Big Pharma are making a lot of profit but despite that they are keeping the costs high making a lot of medicines unavailable for the poor, unfortunately for us ordinary people we have to pay the price for expensive medication. Children are bombarded with negative messages that subconsciously influence them and their decisions. Media, advertisements, TV, movies, and cartoons promote unhealthy, unnatural lifestyle. However, even in schools the effects of healthy lunches and whole foods are undermined because of the wide availability of unhealthy food choices in schools. This was later addressed by the USDA when they banned junk foods from schools as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

We need to do something for our kids to combat their deteriorating health in several areas including physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of their life. We’ll cover more about what we can do as parents, teachers, school administrators and what are some useful tools that we can use.

The 11 Advantages Of Prevention As Early As Now

  1. Avoid expensive hospitalization costs
  2. Minimize expenses for costly medications
  3. Avoid side-effects of medications
  4. Greater quality of life
  5. Increase learning ability
  6. Increase focus, concentration, and productivity
  7. Greater chances for success
  8. Happier life for our children
  9. Longevity Of Our Children
  10. Health Is Passed To The Future Generation
  11. A Legacy Of Healthy Culture, Knowledge, And Wisdom

9 Ways To Take Action Now And Protect Your Child

We created a detailed guide for how to protect your child from these 18 health problems that are increasing in today's children. You can read more about the 9 ways that you can protect your child's health on this link.

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