Childhood Obesity Rates Higher in the South


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years with rates for 6-11 year olds increasing from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. The rates for adolescents (age 12-17) show a similar increase.

Dr. Gopal K. Singh, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the Health Resources and Services Administration analyzed results of National Survey of Children's Health Data conducted in 2003 and 2007. They reported that almost 50 percent of all children nationwide are now classified as overweight (31.6 percent) or obese (16.4 percent) with the largest percentage coming from southern states, such as Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia.

In a May 3rd report published in the online version of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the south continues to lead the pack when it comes to childhood obesity, with Mississippi ranking number one with almost 22 percent of the children classified as obese and 44.5 percent classified as overweight. The lowest rate of obesity in children is in Oregon where only 9.6 percent of the population is considered obese, whereas in Utah the number of children classified as overweight is only 23.1 percent.

It shouldn’t be too surprising that these results parallel the state obesity rates for adults.

Last week I wrote a blog regarding Santa Clara county officials banning toys in kid’s meals until restaurants start offering healthier options. While taking away a toy may not be the answer to this health crisis, something has to be done to reverse the trend so that we can avert a nationwide health catastrophe.

Parents are the biggest role model for their children but unfortunately we are coming up short in the healthy lifestyle department. We know that changing behaviors is a big step in moving these kids away from a sedentary lifestyle to one of healthier living. This includes eating more meals at home, pulling kids away from the T.V. and computer, and making exercise fun.

I’m beginning to wonder if we, as parents, have become apathetic to studies like these or if there is just a lack of education on our part when it comes to changing directions. Whatever the case may be, if we don’t change directions, we are certainly going to lose a generation well before their time.

When you read studies such as the one listed above, do you think they help change the direction our kids are heading in? What are some actions you, as a parent, are taking to help your kids embrace positive healthy lifestyles? Do you think the trend of obesity will be reversed?

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  • 12
    The toy thing is not a issue with obesity! its the parents who are taking their children out to eat at restaurants. We are being lazy. Parents can save alot of money and have healthier children if they prepare the food their children eat at home and provide healthy choices. Many parents also work today and look to find a quicker easier way. They take the family out more often and those parents whose kids are left at home during after school hours are probably not making very good choices by themselves. they also need to educate their children of the healthy lifestyle way to eat. - 5/5/2010   10:26:48 PM
  • 11
    While watching the food food revolution, i was thinking that past generations would have been shocked at what they saw. I am shocked, as the lunch ladies and the school administration seem to be the "norm" of how society thinks. that is what is so shocking. this thinking needs to be reversed back to where the general attitude of the public is that healthy things are okay and unhealthy things are not. But we seem to be continually making excuses, and it is affecting our children. For example, an adult should have 24 grams of sugar or less a day, but most kids have a choice to get a chocolate milk each lunch period which contains around 30 grams, and is pure corn syrup...not cocoa powder. i have explained the choice to my child and gave her the option of picking a weekday to have the chocolate. After i gave her the information, she choses to have white milk EVERY day! i believe the more informed people become, and the more it becomes popular to talk about this stuff, without looking like a "health freak", the more people will make positive choices. i have also heard plenty of people who say healthy food is too expensive. i was a poor college student and managed to buy fruit and veggies. The same people who say they are too poor to buy healthy foods for thier family are seen buying strawberry syrup for thier kid's milks, and doritoes in their carts. i can't afford junk food. i think it's expensive and there is no nutritional value, and not satisfying to curb hunger. If these kinds of things were more socially acceptable to talk about, and it were less acceptable to make excuses i think our children and their parents would have a higher quality of life, and longer lives.

    I feel like society is SO backward. watching those kids eat that processed junk that can't even be called food is horrible enough, but watching grown adults who work at these schools who actually believe this is okay is the worst thing i've ever witnessed. I feel like such a small and smothered group of thinkers....

    - 5/5/2010   9:48:15 PM
  • SUNSET09
    I'm currently living in the South and due to the warm weather, obesity wouldn't be such a huge issue as there's always things to do and being outside is a blessing. However, as stated earlier, the lack of physical fitness in the schools doesn't help as it all goes back to the parent, teaching good eating habits and exercising with the child/children. If the parents aren't concerned and childen do what the see, how are they to know?! - 5/5/2010   8:26:01 PM
  • LACOOP05
    I live in the South, and love it!
    However, you can't go around eating fried chicken and drinking syrupy tea all the time thinking you're gonna be skinny...
    I think alot of it has to do with traditions and such. We never celebrate (or mourn) without good food & while in the past hard labor might have burned those calories, the vast majority of us don't work like that anymore.

    - 5/5/2010   8:10:00 PM
  • 8
    I believe this and i live in the south. now with people out of jobs there are so many things people cant buy that are healthful. Also in the south lots of people still think you have to have 3 big meals a day. gravey, bisciuts, sausage or bacon, eggs every morning. Ever been to Cracker Barrell and ate breakfast.Wow, its ok once in a while. But i do know people who still eat like this every day.Some people have to be taught a new way of eating.They dont know what is no and what is ok. Look at what has just happened when he went into a WVA school to try and help, as to what they were eating. The Educational staff and parents and children were not to happy.I believe it will happen the education of healthy foods but it will take a while. Its also the things children do now, as some one said . I married a second time my children were always out door playing , from very small all the way thru high school. Baseball, football ,soccer, cheerleading, hikeing. My second marriage my husbands children were much younger, then mine , and all they wanted to do was to stay in side and watch tv.and play electronic hand games then. i would have to make them go out side. They did not know how to play outside , my children had to teach them how to play out side. so there is quite a difference in jusy a few years. - 5/5/2010   8:02:04 PM
  • LN7777
    I live in the south and one of the biggest cut backs in the school system was Physical Education. But on a hopeful note they are trying to incorporate it back in. - 5/5/2010   7:36:37 PM
  • 6
    I really feel like this is directly tied to the economy and poverty rates in these states. Unfortunately, crappy food just costs less than good food and so parents in a lot of cases are trying to just feed their kids - they're not worried about WHAT they feed them, just IF they feed them. Education can also be an issue for the same reasons. For those children receiving benefit from school lunch programs - in many cases the food they get there is just as bad as at home, so the school lunch program needs reform. It's a really unfortunate downward spiral that without MAJOR help from public funding is not going to get any better in my opinion. Poor family situations also lead to psychological problems which can also contribute to weight gain. My heart goes out to those families and the children. - 5/5/2010   7:16:39 PM
  • 5
    I'd also like to see the rates of breast feeding for those states to find out if there is a correlation between obesity and not-breast-feeding....or healthy weight and breast feeding. - 5/5/2010   7:12:11 PM
  • 4
    @Chicorya2: Corporations are legally obligated to act in their shareholders' best interest, not the public's. If they can no longer make money by manufacturing fatty food, they won't. Educating food manufacturers will just fall on deaf ears, people need to learn to be accountable for their food choices. Healthy choices = more healthy food on the shelves. - 5/5/2010   6:03:13 PM
  • 3
    When I read studies like this three things come to mind: first, hummm... confirmation of what we already know; second, gee those video games are a great invention and what a great thing for a parent to buy a kid..... ; and thirdly, here come the laws to tell me as a parent how to raise my kids. Toy restriction are a good example. I have two kids, one heavy and one very thin. I didn't raise them differently. Fruit and veggies are free choice items and always have been. Funny how the thin child refuses the good stuff and the other loves the good stuff.

    I think the studies are good reminders but I really think it is cultural more than anything. We don't cope well with stress in general, overall we encourage a lack of personal responsibility (ie. banning toys, taxing certain items, rather than addressing personal responsibility for choices), and we really encourage the video game playing in our society rather than rigorous work or activities.

    Sorry, I am down off my soap box. I got me overweight not McDonalds. - 5/5/2010   5:55:35 PM
  • 2
    Besides educating the kids via schools and everyone via media, I think we should EDUCATE our agri-businesses - the big business food producers that have sold us on TOO MUCH of all of it. They truly only care about the almighty $$ and the stockholders. They don't give a $hi# about the health of people or animals or the earth. [Pardon my "French," but it's all just so overwhelming!] How can we get the sugar/fat/salt off the shelves, not to mention out of the fast food? - 5/5/2010   4:40:45 PM
  • 1
    I am on a mission to live a healthy lifestyle and my kids are with me whether they like it or not. Lucky for me they are active....but I believe the best example is set by the parents. Active parents = active kids As I make healthy choices for my exercise and nutrition, my kids are learning from my example and eating healthier and moving more! I do not want them repeating my history!!! - 5/5/2010   4:07:48 PM

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