Finally, some good news in the fight against childhood obesity. In Mississippi, a state that consistently appears at or near the top of obesity rankings, the Jackson Clarion Ledger reports a decline in the prevalence of overweight and obese elementary school kids. In 2011, the rate of obese/overweight kids dropped to 37.3 percent from 43 percent in 2005. How? Exercise on the playground and school menu choices with less fried food and more fruits and vegetables.
Interestingly, the story notes that physical activity and eating habits at home didn’t change. Vegetable consumption declined while soda consumption increased.
The director of food services for the Jackson Public Schools hopes better eating habits developed at school will “spill over” into the home, with students suggesting healthier options to their parents.
Interesting. A champion of healthy eating doesn’t expect parents to be setting good examples for their children.
We can safely say these Mississippi moms and dads need guidance, education and motivation to make better choices about eating and exercise for their families. Take their situation and multiply it hundreds of thousands of times across the country, and you get an idea of the need for information and guidance about growing active, healthy kids.
It’s a huge challenge, one that may take a generation or longer to address, as we have seen with anti-smoking campaigns.
For now, we are gratified that our clients in the food system are doing their part to help parents and kids make better choices, starting with healthier menu options. But that is just the beginning. They are starting a conversation with parents and others–medical professionals, for example–who influence our kids’ choices. And they are talking to kids, too, with simple nutrition information and messages about exercise.
Some more good news in the fight against childhood obesity.
More on the causes of childhood obesity here from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.