In the words of Yogi Berra, the future ain't what it used to be.
A new study peeks into the crystal ball, and finds that tomorrow's adults are going to be in pretty rough shape... because yesterday's children were badly overweight. And that means some recent predictions about the future life expectancy of Americans might have been wildly optimistic.
Researchers looked at people born between 1966 and 1985, and found that a fifth of them became obese between the ages of 20 and 29 years old. That's a full decade before similar levels of obesity began to hit members of the post-World War II generation: Those born between 1946 and 1955 didn't start to see obesity issues until they reached their 30s.
And Americans born between 1935 and 1945 didn't fall into that weight category until they reached their 40s, according to the study published in the International Journal of Obesity.
If younger people are getting fatter decades earlier, they're also going to experience the health problems associated with obesity--diabetes, heart disease and more--decades earlier.
But what's even more disturbing is what the study didn't look at. Kids born in more recent years are in far worse shape than those born even 25 years ago. Some of today's overweight kids make the out-of-shape youth of yesteryear look like swimsuit models.
And you can bet there's going to be a price to pay for that.
As I mentioned just a few weeks ago, the child obesity problem has spiraled out of control faster than anyone could have imagined. (Click here to read, "Child obesity reaches a new level.")
There are more than 12 million overweight children in the nation, which is bad enough. But even more alarming, large numbers of the very young are getting very fat... very, very fast.
And in many cases, their own parents don't recognize the problem. A new study out of Australia found that more than half the parents of obese children didn't realize their kids were overweight.
Talk about denial!
But if we're going to solve the problem, it's going to have to begin at home--with those parents. An editorial just published in the New England Journal of Medicine says the only way to fix the child obesity problem is to start kids on the road to healthy habits before they even reach school age.
Wait any longer, and it's just too late.
Does that sound extreme? A little dramatic?
It's not--because if we don't start getting today's little ones accustomed to healthy eating, then tomorrow's adults are going to have shorter, sicker lives.