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July 9-10, 2011

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Obesity a growing issue for Ulster school kids

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.

County Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck doesn’t believe in kids dieting or counting calories.

“I really believe we need to shift to make it a priority in terms of what our options are that we give kids,” he said. “Kids don’t do any grocery shopping, so whatever we have in the cabinets, in the refrigerators is what they have to choose from, so if we as parents and caregivers make concerted efforts to make those things healthy, we’re giving them healthier choices.” Schools should do the same thing by offering healthy foods in vending machines and encourage physical activities, Hasbrouck said.

Among the ways to reduce obesity, as promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama, are to reduce 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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