MADISON (WKOW) -- Childhood obesity was the major topic at the Healthy Living Summit in Madison on Thursday.
Experts say it's the first generation of children that are likely to live shorter lives than their parents.
Health officials in Dane County discussed strategies for creating a healthier community.
Experts believe habits learned in childhood are likely to carry on as children grow up.
"It's something that determines our future. If kids aren't healthy they're not going to be attending classes. If they're not attending classes they're dropping out of school," said Emily Ehresmann of Access Community Health Centers.
Studies show overweight children are more likely to develop health problems when they get older; but many are already developing serious conditions in childhood.
"Dramatic increase in diabetes. A dramatic increase in hypertension, heart disease, stroke, all these things follow suit. We think maybe they follow suit just for senior citizens which we care tremendously for our elders, but these are also pediatric diseases and pediatric epidemics," said Aaron Doeppers of the American Heart Association.
Health officials are also concerned about the gap between higher and lower income children, as well as caucasian and minority children.