Do you ever worry about your weight? According to a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, you have every reason.
According to this recent research, over a lifetime, 9 out of 10 U.S. men and 7 out of 10 women will become overweight. Although we’ve all heard that the obesity epidemic is spreading across the nation, these statistics are a look into a deadly future.

The study shows U.S. citizens live in an “environment in which it’s hard not to become overweight or obese..” But we should be able to work against our surroundings. There is a considerable amount of information flooding America about how to lose weight. The equation’s pretty simple, really— to be healthy, calories in = calories expended. Though the landscape is littered with fast food restaurants, we are all becoming better educated on the causes of obesity.

Maybe just our generation is going to be strapping on the fat suits. Surely younger generations can be influenced by parents that understand how important healthy food and exercise is. In fact, this is completely wrong: “They’re now projecting that this generation of kids will not live as long as their parents. This will be the first year in a long time when this will be the case,” according to Dr. Kathleen Knutzen, a professor in the Department of Physical Education Health and Recreation. The cause for a lowered expected life span? Obesity.

Children are getting illnesses related to obesity at younger and younger ages. “Kids who are 12 years old are incurring type-2 diabetes…you can attribute a lot of that to obesity, which is further attributed to lack of physical activity and nutrition,” said Dr. Knutzen. “Look at the changes in the American diet: increased fat and carbohydrates. The fast food industry [is thriving]. Technology has made it so oftentimes kids get less physical activity. Our generation of kids just doesn’t go outside and play like they used to. They are stuck inside in front of the TV.”

Technology is not the only contributor to lack of physical activity. One of the biggest factors is the example set by parents: “One in four American adults is totally sedentary,” said Knutzen. “And most of those who do exercise are exercising at lower rates.”

Another factor is U.S. sports culture. “At the Northwest Soccer Complex, you see tons of kids in the younger age groups. But when they get to age eleven, and select teams are picked, the number of teams drop off,” said Knutzen. Not only are children getting told that they’re not good enough to play a sport at a very young age, the league provides fewer and fewer opportunities for recreational teams as the kids get older.

In order to help raise awareness about the increasingly pressing issue of our kids becoming less and less healthy, the Western Center for Healthy Living is putting on a Childhood Obesity Workshop on Friday, October 28. This daylong event will feature speeches from dietitians, pediatricians, professors and elementary teachers.

The goal of the event is to give everyone from students and community members to medical professionals current information on the factors affecting the growing numbers of obese children. “This could end up being one of the biggest health issues we’re going to face in your lifetime,” said Dr. Knutzen.

The event takes place at St. Luke’s Community Health Education Center, 3333 Squalicum Parkway, and costs $20 for students and $30 for the community.

To register or find out more, visit the Center for Healthy Living’s website, http://www.wwu.edu/depts/healthyliving/, or contact Kathleen Knutzen at 650-3055, 650-3763 or Kathy.Knutzen@wwu.edu.