Data analysis report details key findings and makes recommendations for physicians and health professionals.
Childhood obesity remains a serious problem in the United States that puts kids at risk for poor health outcomes including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, respiratory problems, orthopedic issues, menstruation problems, psychological challenges and childhood diabetes. Recently, a data analysis on childhood obesity in Travis County was conducted by Austin Public Health and published in the September/ October edition of the Travis County Medical Society Journal http://www.tcms.com/uploadedFiles/Travis_County_Medical_Society/Communications/Journal/2017-TCMS-Sept-Oct-web.pdf (page 22)
Key findings include:
In 2013-2014, 28.1% of Travis County students (grades 3-12) were “overweight or obese. i
Girls had a slightly lower prevalence of overweight and obesity (27.5%) versus boys (28.5%).
High school and elementary students had higher overweight and obesity (31.7% of high school students and 31.5% of elementary school students were overweight or obese) versus only 22.8% of middle school students that were overweight or obese.
Comparison of the different school districts in Travis County showed a high correlation between the percentage of students who were overweight or obese, and the percentage of students in the district with economic disadvantage. ii For instance, Eanes ISD had only 9.6% of students that were overweight or obese and only 3% of students with economic disadvantage, while 38.1 % of Del Valle ISD students were overweight or obese and 86% of students were identified as economically disadvantaged. (see table below)
Recommendations for physicians & health professionals include:
Talk to parents and patients: Emphasize health and health risks as they pertain to someone carrying extra weight; promote healthy eating and exercise instead of dieting and weight loss; and educate parents on the negative outcomes such as stress, stigma and low self-esteem.
Promote healthy eating and activity: Encourage children to eat fruits and vegetables and whole grain products, limit consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and limit saturated fats. Help kids stay active (60 minutes of physical activity daily) and reduce couch time.
Promote healthy moms & babies: Educate pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant on the importance of a healthy weight during pregnancy; promote breastfeeding for the first year of life which significantly protects against obesity in children.
i Based on 2013-2014 Fitness Gram data – Percentage of students having a “health risk” body mass index ii Economic disadvantage was defined as the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Program.
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