Childhood Obesity Report Provides Starting Point For Improving Diets

Childhood Obesity Report Provides Starting Point For Improving DietsThe White House is not alone in its war against childhood obesity, as Michelle Obama and Cabinet officials unveiled the results of a White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity at a news conference Tuesday, D. C. officials wrapped up a two-day conference on obesity in the District.

The main focus of the conference was on the disparities of childhood obesity in the District, including an action plan for rectifying the problem.

According to Pierre N. D. Vigilance, Director of the D. C. Department of Health, the Anacostia River is the dividing line between District residents on poor diets and those on healthy diets, with those living east of the River or in Wards 6, 7 and 8, more likely to have a higher rate of obesity than those living in the upper Northwest.

According to a report presented at the news conference, poor diet and physical inactivity are the two major contributors to obesity in the District, including being the most preventable causes of death. According to the District of Columbia’s Overweight and Obesity Action Plan, obesity accounts for 15% of all deaths in the city.

The report also found:

· Women were more likely to be obese than men, 25% vs. 19%.

· Those suffering from diabetes and hypertension were more likely to be obese.

· Those who had five or more fruits or vegetables daily were less likely to be overweight or obese.

· Wards 2 and 3 with the most grocery stores, organic food and farmers markets had the lowest obesity rates; Ward 8 with the fewest healthy food options had the highest rates of obesity.

· High school-age boys were more likely to be obese – 19%, than their female counterparts – 16% of whom were obese.

· Only 30% of high school-age youths got the recommended 60 minutes of exercise five days of the week.

· Obesity rates have increased from 13.4% in 2003 to 17.7% for high school-age youths.

· The percentage of high school-aged youths participating in physical activity for at least 60 minutes five or more days per week increased from 18.2% in 2005 (the first year the data was collected) to 30.2% in 2007. The percentage of high school-age youths who ate fruits and vegetables five or more times per day decreased from 21.3% in 2003 to 19.3% in 2007.

Officials at the conference said a holistic approach involving the entire city had to be taken to solve the problem of obesity.