One of the most devastating results of the Standard American Diet (SAD)—and there are many to choose from—is the epidemic of childhood obesity. Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. About 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years are obese. That’s far too many.

Of those children who are severely obese, two-thirds were found to already have at least one risk factor for heart disease, according to a recent study published in Archives of Diseases in Childhood. The study analyzed data from 500 children. One of the most striking findings was that only one of these children was obese as a result of a medical condition. The other severely obese children were said to be obese due to lifestyle factors like poor diet and lack of exercise.

Childhood obesity leads to more than just heart disease. It increases the risk for developing type 2 diabetes (which used to be known as adult-onset diabetes, but that name has since been changed). It has also been linked to the development of certain cancers later in life, such as bladder, urinary, and colorectal cancers.

If children were simply provided the five servings of fruits and vegetables (ideally 3 vegetables and 2 fruits) daily—not counting potatoes or corn as a vegetable, since those are really starches—then most children would be well on their well to optimal health and childhood obesity could be avoided for most. Instead, many children eat “fruit snacks” and fruit juice, in addition to an array of processed grains in the form of cookies, crackers, and breads. Where are the nutrients?!

I do know that there is more to the development of obesity than diet and lifestyle, however. Genes play a role, and so do our gut bacteria and the toxins we are exposed to. But we must always start with the diet. Increase fiber and nutrient content in the diets of your children. This is a great place to start.