In recognition of Childhood Obesity Awareness month, we are pleased to be able to provide our advocates with the most recent statistics on obesity in our state and across the nation. The State of Obesity Report (formerly F as in Fat), a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides a close-up look at our progress toward reducing obesity across all populations and demographics, and the work that lies ahead of us to ensure our kids are growing up healthy and strong.
For the past 11 years, this report has raised awareness about the serious nature of obesity, and encouraged the creation of a national obesity prevention strategy. The American Heart Association has worked alongside our partners at the Trust and RWJ Foundation, and others, to develop effective approaches for reversing the obesity epidemic at the local, state and federal level.
We are pleased to see this report reflects that childhood obesity appears to be stabilizing among all children ages 0-18 – that is, it is not going up as significantly as in previous years. However, much of the stabilization is among ages birth – two years old; unfortunately, the obesity rate among high school students has continued to increase over the past two years.
As you know, obesity has a dramatic impact on other chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and stroke, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and other serious illnesses.
South Dakota is ranked 21st among all states and the District of Columbia with an obesity rate of 29.9%. That is an increase of more than 19% since 1990, and a 7.3% increase in the last ten years. We have a lot of work to do to bring obesity rates down among all age groups, and racial and ethnic disparities continue to exist.
The report also highlights the various policy objectives that are important in our fight to reduce obesity. Policy change at the local, state and federal level all can have a dramatic impact on reducing the impact of obesity. In South Dakota, we can change the upward direction of obesity by encouraging physical activity before, during and after school, by ensuring our kids have healthy school lunches, improving access to healthy and affordable food, and reducing sodium consumption.
Combatting obesity in our communities will take dedication, focus, innovation and cooperation. Please join us in this fight! Let us know obesity prevention is a priority for you and that you want to help us in our efforts. Sign in to your profile at www.yourethecure.org and click on your name in the upper right corner. Under the Interests tab, check Obesity Prevention and Nutrition, or send me and email and let me know of your interest.