July 8, 2011

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Ulster school kids trend toward overweight problem

KINGSTON – A survey of 5,800 students in 41 schools in Ulster County finds that 37 percent of the kids were overweight or obese, with 20 percent being obese. That mirrors the national rates.

Compared to a previous Body Mass Index study four years ago, there was no difference in obesity among first and third graders in 2010, but overall trends show that overweight and obesity increases with grades first and seventh, with a significant increase in overweight and obesity from grades three to five.

“Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and has become our nation’s number one public health issue,” said Ulster Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “Because obese children are likely to become obese adults, children are at risk for all of the associated health risks including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.”

Hasbrouck said every sector of the community, including parents, educators, community leaders and health professionals need to work together to help reverse the trend and ensure a healthier future for children.

Among the ways to reduce obesity, as promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama, is to reducing high calorie, high fat foods and beverages; serve more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables; reduce computer, TV and video screen time; serve and order small portions; and make sure everyone gets at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.

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