PIERRE, S.D. (KELO-AM) – The number of South Dakota kids who were overweight or obese was unchanged in the state’s latest school height and weight survey. Released by the Department of Health today, the survey shows 16.6 percent of students were overweight in the 2012-2013 school year, the same as the previous year. Sixteen percent were obese, nearly unchanged from 15.9 percent the year before.
“While it’s good that the numbers of overweight and obese children appear to have leveled off, there is clearly more work to do to start bringing those numbers down,” said Linda Ahrendt, chronic disease prevention and health promotion administrator for the Department of Health. “We know that overweight and obese students become obese adults who develop more chronic disease than their peers who had healthy weights as children.”
South Dakota’s overall rate is still above the department’s 2020 goal of no more than a 14 percent child obesity rate. However, the state’s obesity rate is below the latest national rate – approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents, aged 2 to 19 years, are obese in the United States, compared to 16 percent of South Dakota children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years.
A total of 190 schools submitted student height and weight data for the latest survey, accounting for 35.6 percent of students in the state. The survey defines obese as at or above the 95th percentile body mass index-for-age when compared to kids of the same age and gender; overweight is between the 85th and 94th percentiles.
Department resources to help encourage healthy diets and increase physical activity for kids include the Munch Code (www.munchcode.org/), healthy concessions information for schools and youth activities, and Harvest of the Month (www.sdharvestofthemonth.org/), which combines lessons and produce sampling to get kids eating more vegetables and fruit.
The full student height weight report is available at http://doh.sd.gov/statistics/.
Improving the health of South Dakota children and adolescents by reducing overweight and obesity is one goal of the department’s Health 2020 Initiative.