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Childhood Obesity A Major Problem And Is Getting Worse
Posted: Saturday, May 29, 2004
That was the main point by Susan P. Bennett, registered dietitian with the Texas Department of Health. She emphasized, "The best preventive approach is to target children and their families ... with healthy eating and physical activity."
Mrs. Bennett, who has been with TDH since 1985, said figures in a Strategic Plan for Obesity Prevention in Texas released this February by the Statewide Obesity Taskforce shows a 13 percent increase in obesity in Texans from 1990 to 2001. The study also shows the East Texas region above the state level.
In another graph, comparing fourth-, eighth- and 11th-graders among children in a 2001 study, she pointed out African-Americans and Hispanics had the highest rates of obesity.
Fourth-grade African-American girls had the highest rate of obesity with 30.8 percent, while Hispanic girls were close behind with a 26.4 percent obesity rate. Whites and other categories recorded a 13.7 percent obesity rate.
Eighth-grade African-American girls also had the highest obesity rate at 23.1 percent, compared to 16.3 percent of Hispanics and 15.3 percent white and others.
," she said.
"Other health consequences of obesity for children include depression and low self-esteem, asthma, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and progression to adult obesity. They are more likely to smoke and to drink alcohol beverages," she added.
She said Type 2 diabetes is skyrocketing among children, "and those getting diabetes at age 15 can expect to shorten their lives by 27 years ... dying in their late 40s."
Mrs. Bennett said the report shows Hispanic boys leading the obesity figures in fourth, eighth and 11th grades, while African-Americans and whites and others closer behind. Fourth grade Hispanic boys had a 31.1 percent obese rate, eighth graders top all figures at 32.6 percent and 11th graders hit the 29.5 percent mark.
She said obese children only ate one or no fruits daily, ate only one or no vegetables and consumed only one or no servings of milk or dairy products. "We need them to eat more fruits and vegetables and restrict foods with minimal nutrition values," she said.
Mrs. Bennett said physical activity legislation started in 2003, requiring 30 minutes of exercise daily or 135 minute weekly, in elementary schools. "Exercise is a major key to reducing obesity ... diets come and go and don't seem to keep the weight off. But a family that exercises together will be healthier."
Source: Diabetes In Control
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