Childhood obesity dropping elsewhere, but not in North Dakota

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that obesity rates for preschool aged children dropped in 18 states between 2008 and 2011. The news was celebrated, as it showed that for the first time in decades some states were making progress in reducing childhood obesity.

But North Dakota is among a number of states that did not experience a decrease. The childhood obesity rate among children between the ages of 2 and 4 in North Dakota is about 14 percent, with another 17 percent of preschoolers in the state classified as overweight. Childhood obesity remains a growing problem in North Dakota, and nationwide as the nation’s childhood obesity rate has more than tripled since 1980.

Childhood obesity map of United States
North Dakota is one of 19 states not to experience a drop in childhood obesity among preschool age kids (USA Today graphic).

A national children’s health survey indicates that more than 35 percent of North Dakota children between the ages of 10 and 17 are overweight or obese. A CDC survey also shows that more than 24 percent of North Dakota high school students are either classified as overweight or obese (Body Mass Index readings in the 85th percentile or higher).

We are working to combat childhood obesity in North Dakota. Our Official Sponsor of Recess platform is helping North Dakota children stay active and encouraging movement in schools. Our MediQHome program is helping to improve the treatment of diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions that can accompany obesity in children and adults in the state by leading to greater collaboration between doctors and more coordinated care.

Please join us and others in the state fighting childhood obesity by encouraging healthy lifestyles, physical activity and proper nutrition in your children and to others. Additional resources are available from the North Dakota Department of Health and the CDC.

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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