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    Met X and the toxic shopping cart

    The nation’s childhood obesity crisis may start in the shopping cart.

    Findings from a recent US Department of Agriculture report show that “sweetened beverages” were the number 1 category of items purchased by households participating in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).1 The category, which includes soft drinks, juice drinks containing less than 50% actual fruit juice, and energy drinks, represented nearly 10% of the dollars SNAP households spent on food. Further findings indicated SNAP households purchased slightly more junk food and fewer vegetables than non-SNAP households.

    Although the expanding waistlines of US kids have many contributing factors, the obesity itself is more and more understood as the eye of a maelstrom of morbidities. One condition becoming more prevalent with the early onset of obesity is Metabolic Syndrome or Met X. Clinicians are still extrapolating the diagnosis of what had largely been an adult condition to the pediatric population, but Met X’s markers of elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels all have obesity at their literal core.

    Alerting the community pediatrician about Met X and its threat to the future health of children with obesity in the form of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke is the goal of our review. Until we revisit the national policy of subsidizing nutritional health hazards, pediatricianscan be the watchkeepers who help prevent today’s overweight child from becoming tomorrow’s debilitated adult.

    References

    1. US Department of Agriculture. Foods Typically Purchased by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Households. November 2016.

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