It’s true that America is getting fatter and it’s starting at a younger age but I have to give it up to my home state. Despite its many months of gray and rain, cold weather and lack of vitamin D, we Oregonians have the leanest kids! More specifically, just under 10 percent are considered outright obese and these numbers fell from 2003. Unfortunately, 16 percent of America’s kids aged 10-17 years old are in the obese category – not just overweight. This is astounding to me. What’s worse is that this is a 10 percent increase since 2003.
Mississippi came in last with one-fifth of its youth (or 21.9 percent) falling into the obese range followed by Georgia at 21.3 percent and Kentucky at 21 percent.
Besides Oregon, the next best states were Wyoming at 10.2 percent, Minnesota at 11.1 percent and Washington State also at 11.1 percent.
When talking to overweight/obese kids and teens as a health care provider, I find that many times it starts at home and I am often educating the entire family (parents included) about what constitutes a healthy diet. In many instances I hear similar stories of busy families without a lot of time opting for quick breakfast of sugary cereal or cereal bars (if they eat breakfast at all), school lunch of fast food or pizza, then high carbohydrate dinners like spaghetti or fast food. Often their favorite hobby is computer or video game related and exercise isn’t encouraged in their school or in their home. They drink soda (regular or diet) and high sugar juice instead of hydrating with water. The teens are starting to get into high sugar coffee drinks such as mochas or lattes. Many times the parents have the same habits and teach it to their children.
Obesity as a child leads to problems earlier in life. They will have to be careful of diabetes or pre-diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatigue, knee and ankle problems, sleep problems/sleep apnea, fertility problems, and more.
Good nutrition and physical activity needs to begin at home and extend into the schools.