Commentary: We'll all pay the high price of childhood obesity

In a week that has seen Michelle Obama, first lady of the United States, unveil a national plan to help get kids fit, it should go without saying that an apple a day really can keep the doctor away . . . along with an hour of exercise a day, a healthy diet, and reasonable sleep.

But lest you stop reading now with an exasperated sigh, while muttering to yourself, Duh!, consider that the United States, which leads the world in many categories of achievement, is fast approaching a new record, with as much as 33 percent of its juvenile population severely overweight or obese.

South Florida has its share of obese folks, and while some folks have sheepish or sad memories of poking fun at portly friends back in the day, or being picked on, the weight of their children and their children's children is fast becoming a national crisis.

Medical experts say obese kids grow into obese adults 80 percent of the time, and extra weight dominoes into asthma, diabetes, bad joints and backs, and heart disease.

If you get no other epiphanic words this month, get these by 13-year-old Nicholas Perello of Miami, a now-healthy kid who was obese and faltering health-wise till last summer, when he attended Wellspring Academies, which runs residential weight-loss centers.

"I just had a real problem with the food," Nicholas says matter-of-factly. "I didn't necessarily eat low quality food. But the foods I ate were too rich. My blood pressure was really high and my cholesterol, and like sometimes my heart raced."

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