Obesity rates rise among Alabama preschoolers

Obesity rates rise among Alabama preschoolers

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A recently released report shows the number of low income, obese preschoolers in Alabama continues to rise. The report looked at data from 2014 compiled by the Women, Infants and Children or WIC feeding program.

One specific age group that was measured was low income children between the ages of two to four. While the national obesity rate for children that age is declining in Alabama, it has increased by about 14 percent since 2000. That puts Alabama as 10th highest in the nation.

But why are our numbers so high? Nutritionists and doctors say there are several reasons including a lack of access to healthy, affordable food, a lack of time to prepare healthy meals, and cultural as well as generational choices.

But nutritionists say changes can be made.
         
One thing parents can do is know what their child's body mass index or BMI is. They can learn this by asking their pediatrician for their child's "Z score".
         
Another would be to start small and make sure your entire family is on the same page when making changes to a healthier diet for your child.

"Start small and see what your family can do," says Rainie Carter, a pediatric dietitian at Children's of Alabama Hospital. "One would be sugary beverages. The over consumption of sugar can definitely lead to obesity later in life. And what you can do in fast food is give kids options. Instead of just walking up and asking what they want, ask them, 'Do you want grilled chicken and fries or fried chicken and oranges. Give the options.'"
 
In Jefferson County, health officials are already working to prevent childhood obesity. They're implementing regulations that require daycares and child care centers to provide a healthy menu and include a certain amount of physical activity.
         
Centers are scored on these particular areas and those scores will eventually be posted on the Jefferson County Health Department's website.

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