Report: Only Slight Decrease In Number Of Overweight, Obese Kids
At the YMCA in Southeast San Diego, you might expect to see folks exercising or even children on the playground.
But Monday, the YMCA was hosting something different — a discussion on childhood obesity. The discussion stems from a new report out from the county's Childhood Obesity Initiative which found the overweight and obesity rate for children in San Diego is at 34.1%.
But county data shows that rate is just about 2 percentage points lower than it was in 2005.
"I’m happy to applaud the fact that the childhood obesity rates in our county are starting to dwindle, but when we still have one in three that are still facing either overweight or obese there’s still so much more that we can do," said Paige Metz, the Health and Physical Education Curriculum Coordinator with the San Diego County Office of Education.
Metz said the county’s Office of Education works with school districts to inform them on best practices for physical education and nutrition. But, it doesn’t have the power to tell these districts what food to put on the menu, define the types of exercise kids should have or tell them how to do outreach for parental education on nutrition.
The report highlights some critical disparities as well. The rate for Hispanic students measured at 43% during the 2017-18 school year, which is almost twice the rate of their white peers at 24%.
"We’ve seen pockets where it’s decreased. There’s been a very specific and strategic approach… the problem is we need to make sure that what we’re doing is county-wide," Metz said.
Still, Dr. Wilma Wooten, Public Health Officer for the county, says the decrease took a lot of work. She said over the last decade more children have moved from the obesity category to the overweight category.
"Changes don’t happen overnight," she said. "And since 2006 we’ve made investments into the childhood obesity initiative, and those are changes we feel have contributed to the decrease, ever so slightly, that we are seeing represented in the report that’s been issued today."
Wooten said the county is trying to expand its outreach efforts. And that public schools try to follow federal dietary guidelines for school lunches.