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posted on December 11, 2012 11:32


NEWS RELEASE--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 Date: Dec. 11, 2012

Contact:  Niki Forbing-Orr
Public Information Officer
(208) 334-0693

Most Idaho third graders are at a healthy weight, but the percentage of overweight or obese kids is increasing

The majority of Idaho’s third graders are at a healthy weight, according to a recent assessment, but the percentage of students who are overweight or obese continues to increase. Public health officials are encouraging parents to help children get at least an hour of physical activity a day and to limit their time on computers and in front of TVs.

This spring, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare worked with the public health districts to conduct the Idaho 3rd Grade Body Mass Index (BMI) Assessment.  The BMI assessment measured a representative sampling (2,102) of the state’s third grade students’ height and weight to determine whether they were underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese based on their age at the time of the assessment and their gender.  Compared to a similar 3rd grade BMI assessment conducted in 2008, the percentage of obese 3rd graders increased from 12.8 percent in 2008 to 14.6 percent in 2012.

This year’s assessment found that 69 percent of the students were at a healthy weight, 15 percent were overweight, and 15 percent were obese.  A very small percentage, 2 percent, were considered underweight.  Male students were slightly more likely than female students to be categorized as obese.

“We’d like to help parents and their children learn that less screen time, and more healthy snacks, meals and daily exercise is the best way to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle,” said Angela Gribble, Idaho physical activity and nutrition program manager.

An increasing number of obese children also is a problem in the rest of the nation, where obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has tripled over the past 30 years. Estimates show that there are about 12.5 million obese children ages 2-19 years old in the United States.

Obesity is often the result of environments that don’t promote or support healthy eating and daily exercise. Obese children are more likely to have:

  • High blood pressure and cholesterol, both of which are factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Respiratory problems such as asthma and sleep apnea.
  • Musculoskeletal problems.
  • Social and psychological problems.

Obese children are at risk for health problems and are more likely to become obese adults. They’re also at greater risk for severe obesity in adulthood.

Even so, parents can help their children make healthier choices. They can:

  • Limit screen time for children to no more than 1-2 hours per day.
  • Make sure their children are served healthy foods and drinks and TV time is limited if their children attend childcare.
  • Work with schools to promote the adoption of healthy food and snack policies.
  • Provide their children with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and limit foods high in sugar and fat.
  • Serve water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Encourage at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

See the full report, including district-by-district results, here.