Couch-potato culture may cut our lives short

April 20, 2011 - 0:0

The turning point happened last summer when Sherrie Boughter's son came to her in tears about his weight — at 8 years old, he tipped the scales at 184 pounds.

""I weigh more than Rey Mysterio,"" the professional wrestler, Justin told his mom. ""You have to help me! You have to help me!"" he pleaded. ""We sat and cried for an hour,"" remembers Boughter, 41, who lives in Medina, Ohio.
She and her husband, Brian, sought help from the Akron Children's Hospital Future Fitness Clinic, where she says the staff didn't beat around the bush.
While Justin didn't have full-blown diabetes, which runs in the family, he had brown patches on the back of his neck that can be a warning sign of the disease.
""It was the worst day of my life when I was there and they're going, 'You're killing him. You're not doing him any favors by giving him another piece of cake,'"" she says.
""You give this child life and you don't stop that. I brought him here and basically now I was wrecking him.""
Thanks largely to medical and public health advances, Americans are living longer than ever. The average life expectancy in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, was nearly 78. That's up from 47 in 1900 and 68 in 1950. But even as the market for anti-aging pills and products has never been hotter with Americans seeking a longer life, some experts say we as a nation are doing ourselves in with our couch-potato culture of eating way too much and exercising far too little. Some health professionals even raise the controversial notion that today's generation of kids like Justin — about a third of whom are overweight or obese — may be the first to live shorter lives than their parents.
Clearly, it would be a mistake to conclude that obesity does not matter for our health or well-being, that it's without consequence to eat all the Krispy Kremes we want, throw out our sneakers and kick back and watch as our waistlines expand, says Dr. I-Min Lee, an associate professor of epidemiology and medicine at Harvard. (Source: