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Protecting Children From Obesity

Adults aren’t the only ones who need to worry about obesity. Kids today are fatter than ever. Frighteningly, as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) writes, “[C]hildren as young as three or four years … have the early signs of artery changes that can lead to heart attacks later in life. Many children in Western countries have signs of heart disease by the time they reach their teens.” Furthermore, William H. Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., warns that “[t]he complications of childhood obesity are the risk factors that actually become the diseases of adulthood.”

Kids in the U.S. are getting fatter for the same reasons that adults are getting fatter: The typical Western diet, which relies heavily on animal foods, is high in fat and cholesterol and is a key cause of obesity and coronary heart disease. Hundreds of studies cited by PCRM have shown that “in countries where a healthy variety of whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits is consumed, children are much healthier than in those where children follow typical Western diets”—i.e., consume large quantities of meat and cheese. And meat and cheese are not the only animal foods that can lead to a higher risks of childhood obesity. Despite what the dairy industry claims, milk is not a health food. Two percent milk, for example, derives 30 percent of its calories from fat.

No wonder PCRM has concluded that “[a] vegan diet is the most powerful protection against chronic disease [that] we can offer our children.”

The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, in the last edition of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, observed, “Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods rather than meats … are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer.”

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