WBEZ | childhood obesity http://www.wbez.org/tags/childhood-obesity Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Childhood obesity drops in Chicago kindergarteners http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/childhood-obesity-drops-chicago-kindergarteners-109043 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Nacho pic.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As thousands of Chicago Public School kids sit anxiously waiting for trick or treat time, the city offers some good news and some bad news.</p><p>First the good news: New figures released today by the Chicago Department of Public Health suggest that childhood obesity among CPS kindergarteners has dropped by five percentage points, from 24 percent in 2003 to 19.1 percent in 2012.</p><p>Yay, right?</p><p>Well, don&rsquo;t break out the king size Snickers yet. That figure still puts their obesity levels well above the national average (12 percent) for kids their age, and even the average (14 percent) for low-income kids.</p><p>Additionally, the latest figures don&rsquo;t show any statistically significant improvements among older students who are measured at 6th and 9th grade.&nbsp; Instead, those levels seem to be hitting a plateau, which mirrors overall obesity figures in the U.S. during the last decade.<br /><br />Despite these qualifiers, the news was greeted with some optimism by local folks who have been working on this issue for years.</p><p>&quot;I think the new numbers are promising,&rdquo; said Adam Becker, who heads the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children. &ldquo;For decades we&rsquo;ve seen major increases in the rates and so to see the rates going down, even in small increments at a time, is an indication that we are moving in the right direction.&rdquo;</p><p>The improvement among CPS kindergarteners follows modest progress in 21 states across the country among very young children, and improvements in other big cities including New York and Los Angeles. But Chicago still posts higher childhood obesity numbers than those big cities for reasons researchers are not quite able to explain.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we are starting to see what we all hope will be an ongoing national decline in obesity levels for all kids,&rdquo; Becker said. &ldquo;And this should just encourage us to step it up.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Most researchers agree that tripling of childhood obesity in the U.S. over the last 35 years was a result of several converging factors.</p><p>To combat them, the city has recently taken a multifaceted approach that has included adding more fruits and vegetables to school lunches and ditching the daily nachos. Other initiatives have involved offering grocers incentives to open in underserved neighborhoods, supporting fresh produce cart vendors, restoring recess to schools and finally gathering and calculating these CPS obesity figures to begin with.</p><p>&ldquo;Obviously I&rsquo;m really excited about seeing these numbers headed in the right direction,&rdquo; said Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair. &ldquo;But we&rsquo;ve still got a lot of work to do.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 31 Oct 2013 00:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/childhood-obesity-drops-chicago-kindergarteners-109043 Childhood obesity falls in 19 states, except Illinois http://www.wbez.org/news/childhood-obesity-falls-19-states-except-illinois-108328 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/img10_bg.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>While obesity rates among low-income preschoolers in 19 states recently fell, Illinois&rsquo; rates didn&rsquo;t budge.</p><p>This was one of the findings of <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2013/dpk-vs-child-obesity.html#spoke">an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> released late Tuesday, which was greeted with mixed feelings by local public health experts.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a little disappointing that we haven&rsquo;t seen more change in Illinois&rdquo; said Elissa Bassler CEO of the Illinois Public Health Institute, which works to combat obesity in the state. &ldquo;But it was encouraging to see that many of the factors that seem to be driving the [declines] are the multi-stakeholder approaches that we have been supporting in the state.&rdquo;</p><p>The analysis examined obesity rates among 2 to 4 year olds whose families participate in the Women Infants and Children public assistance program. Between 2008 and 2011 rates of obesity in the children decreased in 19 states including California, Washington, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, Mississippi, New York and Florida. In 21 other states, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Arizona, rates remained statistically unchanged. And in three states&mdash;Colorado, Tennessee and Pennsylvania&mdash;obesity rates rose.</p><p>On a national level the news was met with cautious hope that this could mark the beginning of a sea change against the childhood obesity that tripled over the last three decades.</p><p>&ldquo;For the first time we are seeing a large number of states showing a decline after years of increases,&rdquo; said Ashleigh May an epidemiologist at the CDC and the lead author on the study. &ldquo;So this seems to indicate that we may be seeing a real changing of the tide.&rdquo;</p><p>Dr. Adam Becker, who serves at the executive director of the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) shares May&rsquo;s optimism for but wishes Illinois had fared better.</p><p>&ldquo;For the&nbsp; nation it&rsquo;s great news that we are seeing these downturns for the lowest income kids where you have significant obesity prevalence,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But for Illinois it&rsquo;s a mixed bag. We would have liked to see Illinois on the list of states where the numbers are going down. Still, for years you have seen this meteoric rise in childhood obesity rates&nbsp; and so this would suggest that we may be nearing the end, plateauing or entering a real downturn. &ldquo;</p><p>While this CDC examination of select preschoolers showed no improvements for Illinois, Becker notes that CLOCC&rsquo;s analysis of obesity data for Chicago Public Schools and local Catholic schools between 2003 and 2008 indicated declining rates among kindergarteners. The figures show rates dropping from 24 percent in 2003 to 22 percent in 2008. A recent Chicago Department of Public Health analysis looking at CPS numbers only indicated a further drop among kindergarteners to 20 percent in 2011.</p><p>An analysis using the same somewhat imperfect mix of CLOCC and CDPH data would, however, also indicate that obesity among CPS sixth graders may be rising-- from 28 percent in 2008 to 29.2 percent in 2011. Hispanic male sixth graders suffered the highest levels at 39.8 percent.<br /><br />Additionally, CLOCC data indicates that obesity rates among Chicago students check in at about 1.5 to 2 times the national average for children of similar ages.</p><p>Why are Chicago kids so much heavier than most of their counterparts across the nation? That&rsquo;s a question Becker has been chewing on for several years.</p><p>&ldquo;I wish I knew the answer,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;We have done a couple of things to try to tease that out. We&rsquo;ve looked at food deserts,&nbsp; crime and environments that lead to a lack of physical activity. But other urban centers like New York and LA have those same issues and their obesity numbers are not as high as ours.&nbsp; Others say it&rsquo;s because of our climate which makes it hard to be out and active for about half of the year, but New York is pretty cold too.&nbsp; Others have suggested that because Illinois is just north of the Southern Gulf States [with high obesity rates] that it&rsquo;s a product of that direct migration. But pinning this down is very hard,&rdquo; Becker said.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a perplexing issue and I wish that we could pinpoint exactly what it is so that we could do that one thing or that collection of things but even the CDC says it is not sure what exactly what factors drive this change.&rdquo;</p><p>So the public health community is moving forward with a multiple approaches, many of which mirror practices in states that showed obesity declines in the latest study.</p><p>Among them, Becker notes, are new licensing requirements (already enacted in Chicago) for state child-care facilities that would limit access to sugar sweetened beverages, increase physical activity and reduce exposure to food marketing through screen time.&nbsp;</p><p>He says provisions for the new guidelines are still in the hands of a joint committee of the Illinois General Assembly and are expected to come out &ldquo;any Friday now.&rdquo;</p><p>While May is pleased with the declining obesity rates in so many states, she warns that they don&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s time to break open a Twinkie and call it a day.</p><p>&ldquo;The national prevalence for childhood obesity is still much too high,&rdquo; she says, &ldquo;We are not out of the woods yet and there is still a lot of work to be done.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, she says, that Illinoisans shouldn&rsquo;t fret too much over their static rates.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo; I would say that no change is a good thing&mdash;at least you&rsquo;re not increasing,&rdquo; she says, &ldquo;Obesity did not become a public health crisis overnight and so we are not going to be able to reverse it overnight. It&rsquo;s going to take multiple years and multiple changes on multiple levels to change things for good.&rdquo;</p><p>So will Illinois make the list of states that sees a decline next year?</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m feeling optimistic,&rdquo; says Becker of CLOCC, &ldquo;so let&rsquo;s say &lsquo;yes&rsquo;.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/MonicaEng">@MonicaEng</a></em></p></p> Wed, 07 Aug 2013 16:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/childhood-obesity-falls-19-states-except-illinois-108328 Michelle Obama to Chicago kids: 'I am you' http://www.wbez.org/news/michelle-obama-chicago-kids-i-am-you-105794 <p><p>Imagine students learning their ABCs while dancing, or memorizing multiplication tables while doing jumping jacks.</p><p>Some schools are using both methods of instruction, and Michelle Obama would like to see more of them use other creative ways to help students get the recommended hour of daily exercise.</p><p>In Chicago Thursday, the first lady announced a new public-private partnership to help schools do just that. &quot;Let&#39;s Move Active Schools&quot; starts with a website, www.letsmoveschools.org , where school officials and others can sign up to get started.</p><p>Mrs. Obama said too many penny-pinched schools have either cut spending on physical education or eliminated it outright to put the money toward classroom instruction. But the first lady who starts most days with a workout &mdash; and other advocates of helping today&#39;s largely sedentary kids move their bodies &mdash; say that&#39;s a false choice, since studies that show exercise helps youngsters focus and do well in school.</p><p>The effort is one of the newest parts of Mrs. Obama&#39;s 3-year-old campaign against childhood obesity, known as &quot;Let&#39;s Move,&quot; which she has spent the week promoting.</p><p>&quot;With each passing year, schools feel like it&#39;s just getting harder to find the time, the money and the will to help our kids be active. But just because it&#39;s hard doesn&#39;t mean we should stop trying,&quot; the first lady said. &quot;It means we should try harder. It means that all of us &mdash; not just educators, but businesses and nonprofits and ordinary citizens &mdash; we all need to dig a little deeper, start getting more creative.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/all.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Michelle Obama with athletes and kids in Chicago. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>She was joined at McCormick Place in her hometown by several Olympians, including gymnasts Dominique Dawes and Gabby Douglas, sprinter Allyson Felix, tennis player Serena Williams and decathlete Ashton Eaton, along with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and triathlete Sarah Reinertsen, whose left leg was amputated above the knee when she was a child, and other athletes. Thousands of students from city middle schools also were being brought in for the event.</p><p>Research shows that daily exercise has a positive influence on academic performance, but kids today spend too much time sitting, mostly in school but also outside the classroom while watching TV, playing video games or surfing the Internet. Federal guidelines recommend that children ages 6-17 get at least 60 minutes of exercise daily, which can be racked up through multiple spurts of activity throughout the day.</p><p>The White House says the most current data, from 2007, shows that just 4 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools and 2 percent of high schools provided daily physical education.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/arneduncan.jpg" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Arne Duncan (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" />Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he&#39;s proof of the link between exercise and academic performance. As a boy, he said, he had a hard time sitting still in class but that exercise helped him focus.</div><p>&quot;What&#39;s true for me is true for many of our nation&#39;s children,&quot; he said in an interview.</p><p>Duncan, who played basketball professionally in Australia, said the choice is not between physical activity or academics, especially with about one-third of U.S. kids either overweight or obese and at higher risk for life-threatening illnesses like heart disease or diabetes.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s got to be both,&quot; he said. Duncan cited the examples of students learning the alphabet while dancing or memorizing multiplication tables while doing jumping jacks.</p><p>Mrs. Obama called on school staff, families and communities to help get 50,000 schools, about half the number of public schools in the U.S., involved in the program over the next five years.</p><p>The President&#39;s Council on Fitness, Sports &amp; Nutrition, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation &amp; Dance, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation will oversee the program. Funding and other resources will come from Nike Inc., the GENYOUth Foundation, ChildObesity180, Kaiser Permanente and the General Mills Foundation.</p><p>Under the new initiative, modest grants will be available from the Education Department to help some programs get started. The GENYOUth Foundation and ChildObesity180 also will be awarding grants.</p><p>Nike has committed $50 million to the effort over the next five years; the remaining groups together have pledged more than $20 million.</p><p>Williams said it&#39;s important to structure the activity so that it doesn&#39;t feel like a workout.</p><p>&quot;I had fun and I didn&#39;t realize it was work,&quot; she said about her years of practice before becoming one of America&#39;s top tennis players.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/FDqi4YzCYcw?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 27 Feb 2013 17:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/michelle-obama-chicago-kids-i-am-you-105794 Coalition recommends first-ever nutrition and exercise standards for after school programs http://www.wbez.org/story/coalition-recommends-first-ever-nutrition-and-exercise-standards-after-school-programs-90346 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-10/Kid at playground_Flickr_Phalinn Ooi.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A coalition of groups, including the Chicago-based national YMCA, has issued the first-ever comprehensive national nutritonal and physical activity guidelines for camps and after school programs.&nbsp;</p><p>The standards were issued Tuesday by the Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition and coordinated by the YMCA, the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College.</p><p>They include a common sense-approach including serving fruits and vegetables instead of more sugary, fatty treats; and offering water rather than juices or soda.&nbsp; Half-day programs should offer at least half an hour of physical activity; full-day programs should offer at least an hour.</p><p>“Energy balance and appropriate physical activity are critical to good health and preventing childhood obesity, which is reaching record numbers in this country,” says project co-leader Ellen S. Gannett, director of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time. “If out-of-school programs can influence smart choices for children when they’re away from home and out of the classroom, they will be an important component in the campaign to fight childhood obesity.”</p><p>The new standards have already been adopted by the National Afterschool Association (NAA), and local YMCA's will begin the process of adopting the standards this year.</p><p>According to the coalition, more than eight million children nationwide participate in out-of-school programs for at least three hours a day.</p></p> Wed, 10 Aug 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/coalition-recommends-first-ever-nutrition-and-exercise-standards-after-school-programs-90346 Junk food near schools may be trivial factor for kids' weight http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-20/junk-food-near-schools-may-be-trivial-factor-kids-weight-88119 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-21/112561118.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>You may think that having lots of stores and restaurants selling unhealthful food right next to high schools would be one of the reasons children are getting fatter.</p><p>But you might be wrong. Researchers in Maine have found something contrary to that conventional wisdom: Junk food sold near high schools does not seem to affect students' body mass index, or BMI.</p><p>"Soda — and fast food as well — is so ubiquitous in these kids' lives that having one more or one less venue where they can be purchased near the schools doesn't seem to make any bit of difference," says lead author of the study <a href="http://usm.maine.edu/con/facultyprofiles/DavidHarris.htm">David E. Harris</a>, a researcher at the University of Southern Maine. "If there's soda in the fridge at home, whether you can buy it near the school doesn't seem to make a difference."</p><p></p><p>Students from 11 Maine high schools answered questionnaires about their height, weight and junk food consumption — 552 students in all.</p><p>Researchers found that half of the students drank soda at least once a week and more than 10 percent drank it each day. Also, about two-thirds had visited a fast food restaurant selling burgers in the previous month. In the study, 12.5 percent of those surveyed were obese. According to the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity_child_07_08/obesity_child_07_08.htm">16.9 percent</a> of children and adolescents are obese.</p><p>Researchers also collected data on food stores and restaurants that sold unhealthful food within a 2-kilometer radius of each school. But when they compared the data, the number and proximity of junk food stores didn't seem to impact the kids' BMI. The results of the <a href="http://www.jneb.org/article/S1499-4046%2810%2900457-4/abstract">study</a> appear in the <em>Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior</em>.</p><p>However, <a href="http://www.goranlab.com/">Michael Goran</a>, director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center at University of Southern California, doesn't think the research has much significance. He notes that the study population was small, the environment is unique, and students were reporting their own weight and height, which could skew the results. "I don't put very much weight behind this study," Goren says.</p><p>The authors do acknowledge these limitations in their research.</p><p>But Goran agrees with the researchers on one point: Obesity can't be boiled down to just one factor. "It's all about individual choices," he says. "But, the more that we swim in an obesity-promoting environment, the harder it is to make those choices." </p> Mon, 20 Jun 2011 16:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-20/junk-food-near-schools-may-be-trivial-factor-kids-weight-88119