You may have noticed something different about children today: The vast majority seem to have some kind of diagnosed chronic illness such as ADHD, allergies, asthma, or autism. No matter how you look at it, our children are in trouble. Something is causing these varied symptoms in their bodies. If you look closely at these children’s symptoms (inattentive or hyperactive behaviors, skin rashes, gastrointestinal symptoms, sensory symptoms, breathing problems, learning disabilities, etc.) you will find that they all have common inflammatory roots. In other words, what we are witnessing is actually an unprecedented epidemic of chronic inflammatory conditions in our children. The job of the immune system is to protect our bodies from dangerous exposures in our environment. Inflammation is our bodies’ way of dealing with those exposures—it’s the body’s way of telling us that something in our environment is toxic to our wellbeing. Why are our children so inflamed and what can we do about it?
Common, Not Normal
While rapidly expanding special education programs, ubiquitous epi-pens and the dolling out of pharmaceuticals like candy to elementary school students may seem normal, it is not. Just because these experiences are common, does not mean they are normal. These are hallmarks of a sick and dysfunctional population of children.
Many parents are so overwhelmed dealing with their own children’s health, learning or developmental issues that often they don’t see the bigger picture. They don’t yet recognize that everyone else’s children are sick or struggling too. Children are supposed to be healthy, vibrant and full of life. Yet today, 54% of American children have a diagnosed chronic health condition. Consider this: if (at least) 54% of American children today have a diagnosed chronic illness (autism, ADD/ADHD, asthma, gastrointestinal disease, autoimmune conditions, life-threatening allergies), what is our future going to look like?[i]
I am not the only one asking this question.
A Health Epidemic or a National Security Crisis?
In 2010, retired U.S. military leaders got together and published a report entitled “Too Fat to Fight” (I’m not kidding, that is really the title), and this is what they had to say in that report:
“As retired Generals, Admirals, and other senior leaders of the United States Armed Forces, we know firsthand that national security must be America’s top priority. Our organization recently released a report citing Department of Defense data indicating that an alarming 75 percent of all young Americans 17 to 24 years of age are unable to join the military because they failed to graduate from high school, have criminal records, or are physically unfit. If we don’t take steps now to build a strong, healthy foundation for our young people, then it won’t just be our military that pays the price – our nation as a whole will suffer also.”