Generation Rx is the first generation of kids expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents
The landscape of childhood has changed. No longer are our children guaranteed a childhood free from diabetes, obesity or food allergies.
From the escalating rates of childhood cancers, to the increasing diagnoses for conditions like autism and ADHD, the landscape of childhood has changed, earning our children the title "Generation Rx". They are the first generation of kids expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15. The journal Pediatrics has reported that 15% of American girls are expected to begin puberty by the age of 7 (with the number closer to 25% for African American girls) and a growing number of American children struggle with obesity. On top of that, the rate for having food allergies is 59% higher for obese children, with the Centers for Disease Control reporting a 265% increase in hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions. And while not all of those hospitalizations are for our children, what is becoming increasingly obvious is that the health of our children is under siege. (Why are U.S.-born children at greater risk for allergies than foreign-born kids? Find out here.)
U.S.-born children have a 34.5 percent chance of developing asthma, hay fever, eczema and food allergies, compared with just 20.3 percent of foreign-born children. In addition, children born outside the U.S. but then moved here were more likely to develop allergies the longer they lived in the country.
When I shared this data with a journalist this morning, she was speechless, and I found myself again wondering: What have our children possibly done to deserve this? And more importantly, what can we do to protect them?
This changing landscape of childhood is changing the face of American families and our economy. We already spend 17 cents of every dollar on health care, managing disease. The pharmaceutical companies can't keep up with demand, and now there are shortages for drugs used to treat cancers and ADHD.
But more often than not, the solution is not found in the medicine cabinet, but in the kitchen.
And as scientific evidence continues to mount, courageously presented by doctors like Mark Hyman, MD, in his groundbreaking book, The Blood Sugar Solution, and pediatric specialists like Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Alan Greene, about the role that diet and nutrition plays in the health of our children, parents are beginning to take notice.
And as we introduce new foods that are nutrient-dense (meaning full of vitamins and minerals) and try to reduce our loved ones' exposure to the foods that are nutrient-void (packing mostly artificial ingredients that have been synthetically engineered in laboratories), we are realizing that we have the power to affect remarkable change in the health of our children and families, so that together, we can stem this tide of children flowing into pediatric hospitals being built across the country.
Because while our children may only represent 30 percent of the population, they are 100 percent of our future. And if our current spending on health care and disease management is a leading economic indicator, we need to stem this tide before it becomes a financial and economic tsunami, for the sake of our children, our families, our economy and our country. (13 life lessons all kids should learn--direct from their favorite teacher: you.)