Is the inflation in your kid’s tummy worse than inflation in our economy?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 9, 2024

By Dr. Francis Koster

Adults need to begin to act on the fact that one out of every five of our schoolkids are obese. They have healthcare costs are around $1,000 more every year than a child with a healthy weight and they do not learn as well as their classmates. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, as these obese kids mature, they are likely to have their live expectancy shortened 14 years.

The number of obese school kids has doubled in the past 20 years and continues to increase. The loss of years of healthy life, and the cost of treatment of the weight-caused illness that emerges when they become adults (diabetes, heart conditions, joint destruction) is a national disaster unfolding before our eyes — but most people do not see it, because weight gain everywhere in our society is now the new normal. When women buy a dress size 8 today, it is equivalent to a size 16 50 years ago, so no alarm bell goes off. A size 8 fits, right? 

If one in five of our school kids are at serious and expensive long-term health risk, what should we adults do? This is a tricky issue, because calling out a child for being overweight can cause parental outrage, and child shame, and hostility toward the messenger. On the other hand, if no one brings up the subject, or tries to change the kid’s behavior, we are not acting as responsible adults, and they will lose a lot of years of life.   

Our culture is very divided right now about topics that involve individual rights vs. greater good, and it is difficult to have a conversation about topics that make people emotional. In this case, we have a choice — keep our mouths shut or save lives.

There are a few very important behavior changes that can be made by the adults involved in a child’s life. First, encourage your family members to stop drinking sugar-free soft drinks — the artificial sweeteners actually cause weight gain. Then go google “How to help my child lose weight without making them feel ashamed?” — and do what you see there.

Acting as a responsible adult by doing these things does not mean you have to pick a fight. You can quietly be a positive role model by altering what you eat, and how much you exercise. The kids look up to you — make sure you deserve it.

If you do this, when you hug your kids, you will find it easier to get your arms around them — now when they are little and slender, and later, when they are still alive.  

You need to do this.

Dr. Koster lives in Kannapolis. After retiring from his career as an administrator in pediatric healthcare, he has been researching and implementing programs that address issues that prevent children from reaching their full potential. You can see the results of that work at  and