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            Childhood and adolescent obesity has been increasing at alarming rates over the past few years. In fact, reports show that an estimated 13 percent of our nations children are overweight or obese, that’s more than double what it was just 20 years ago. Hospitalizations due to obesity have nearly tripled. However, Doctor Nazrat Mirra of Children’s National Medical Center refers to these percentages as “the tip of the iceberg”. She claims that more often than not obesity isn’t recorded in hospital records because insurance companies won’t pay for treatment until a patient is diagnosed with a formal illness. .
             Obesity not only exacerbates existing health problems but can also cause a variety of diseases. Health care professionals are reporting a 40 percent rise in cases of obesity-aggravated asthma. Other problems, including obesity related sleep apnea and gallbladder disease are being recorded with increased frequency. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention compared hospital discharge records from the early 1980’s and the late 1990’s. They found obesity related sleep apnea to be five times more common and gallbladder disease rates to have tripled.
             Diagnosis of diabetes in children has nearly doubled since the late 1970’s. This astounding increase seems to parallel that of childhood obesity rates. Type 2 diabetes specifically, which usually forms in adults, is becoming more and more common in children and adolescents.
             Childhood obesity is becoming a serious problem. The main culprits are bad eating habits and lack of exercise. Today’s children have a wider variety of sedentary activities to choose from than they did a decade ago. High calorie, fatty foods are more accessible and serving sizes have grown considerably larger. .
             Elementary schools have begun to teach young children about the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity but many only have bi-weekly gym class.