Childhood obesity rates reach 20% in Alabama

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 5:42 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A study from Louisiana State University shows data collected from almost 15,000 children and teenagers between the ages of 2 and 19 have an obesity rate of almost 22%. The research compares obesity rates from 2011 and 2012, which were 17.7%, to data from 2017 to 2020 which shows a 21.5% rate.

In Alabama, 1 in 5 children between the ages of 10 and 17 are obese. The Alabama Department of Health says these numbers are steadily rising but small changes will help make a big difference.

Childhood obesity can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Dr. Wes Stubblefield says issues like portion sizes, food choices and screen time all play a factor in reducing obesity rates.

“One is to increase fresh fruits and vegetables,” Dr. Stubblefield said. “We recommend five servings a day. No more than two hours of screen time per day. We recommend one hour of physical activity a day. We recommend that children do not consume sugar-sweetened beverages. Sugar-sweetened beverages are a sneaky-calorie source. So, we’re trying to regulate how much is coming in and going out.”

Dr. Stubblefield says parents should talk to their child’s doctor about what and how much they should be eating. He says the earlier children make healthier choices, the faster they become a habit as they get older.

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