Statewide Childhood Obesity Rates on the Rise
In the United States, recent studies show more than 1/3rd of children and adolescents are either overweight or obese. This statistic has been on the rise for the past 30 years.
•Approximately 17% of children ages 2—19 years are obese. Obesity is categorized as having a body mass index (BMI), based on an individual’s height and weight, of 30 and above.
•Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children has just about tripled. The condition of childhood obesity is dangerous due to an increased risk of acquiring high cholesterol levels, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
•Overall obesity rates are increasing in 16 U.S. states. Not one state showed any rate decline. A study shows Colorado has the lowest overall rate and Mississippi the highest.
These findings are reported by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This study also reports seven states as seeing their rates doubled in the last 15 years.
In 1990, no state had an obesity rate higher than 15% of its population. Today’s reports show 38 states having rates over 25% with the most rapid growth being in the South. Overall, the highest rates are highest in ethnic minorities.
Is there a single reason for this increasing health dilemma?
Studies show a multitude of small social and environmental changes have been a strong catalyst to these statistics.
•Portion sizes in restaurants have increased
•Fast food establishments make high calorie choices easier to acquire
•Convenience stores offering more food choices are on the rise
•Parents have become less involved in their children’s choices, due to an increased workload and hectic schedules
•Inactivity in children has lowered
The onus is on every state and community to get more proactive to come up with solutions to combat this rise. Children’s behaviors are shaped by family, schools, and the communities they live in. It is a multi-faceted approach which requires an assertive drive.