New data released Thursday morning ranks Michigan as one of the top states with overweight young adults in the nation.
The new research provided by a 2017 and 2018 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), along with analysis conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau looked at children ages 10 to 17.
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, it found in Michigan 173,600 young people in that age group are considered overweight.
That puts Michigan just behind Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Mississippi for youth obesity rates.
Nationwide, according to this research there are major differences in the data depending on geographic, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines.
- The national obesity rate for youth ages 10 to 17 in 2017-18 was 15.3 percent, compared with 16.1 percent in 2016. The difference is not statistically significant.
- Racial and ethnic disparities persist. Black and Hispanic youth had obesity rates (22.2 percent and 19.0 percent, respectively), that were significantly higher than White youth, 11.8 percent, or Asian youth, 7.3 percent
- There are also disparities by income level: 21.9 percent of youth in households making less than the federal poverty level had obesity, significantly more than the 9.4 percent of youth in households making at least 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
“This new data show that this challenge touches the lives of far too many children in this country, and that Black and Hispanic youth are still at greater risk than their White and Asian peers,” said Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO of RWJF. “The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to reducing the rates of childhood obesity across the nation. We know it won’t be easy, or quick. We know it will require policy changes at every level of government, and we’re working alongside others to implement shifts that will make it easier for kids and their families to be healthy.”
Advocates are urging policymakers to make changes. These include:
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture should rescind proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, that would cause millions of participants to lose their benefits. Nearly one-third of children age 4 or younger participate in SNAP in a given month.
- USDA should maintain nutrition standards for school meals that were in effect prior to December 2018, and current nutrition standards for school snacks.
- As USDA revises the food package for WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, all recommendations should be scientifically based.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should have adequate resources to provide grants to all 50 states to implement multi-sector campaigns to address obesity.
- State policymakers should allow cities and counties the flexibility to regulate, tax or otherwise enact strong legislation related to children’s health and healthy communities.
According to the CDC, obesity can lead to many health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain types of cancers.
There are things the CDC says parents can do to help encourage healthy eating habits such as providing lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products.
Parents can also remove calorie rich temptations like salty snacks, and switch them out with a cup of blueberries or grapes.
Lastly, helping kids stay active like going for a walk, playing tag, or jumping rope.
The CDC says the goal for overweight children is to reduce the rate of weight gain through normal growth and development.
Never putting them on a diet without talking to a doctor first.