A recent study by the Department of Public Health (DPH) found that about one third of Connecticut children in kindergarten and third grade are overweight or obese and about one out of every seven are obese.
The study was conducted in a sample of 74 elementary schools across the state from 2010 – 2011, and found that about 41% of non-Hispanic black and 43% of Hispanic children were overweight or obese, compared to 27% of non-Hispanic white children. The rates of overweight or obesity were similar among boys and girls. Obesity rates are significantly higher in lower income community schools.
“The results of this study further illustrate the alarming rate of childhood obesity, especially among high risk groups such as low-income, black and Hispanic children,” stated DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop these serious chronic diseases at earlier ages that lead to premature disability, early death, loss of productivity and decreased quality of life.”
Over the past 30 years, the childhood obesity rate in America has almost tripled. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years were already obese.
DPH works with other state agencies, key stakeholders, local health departments, and community leaders and residents to initiate and support statewide obesity reduction efforts. In 2011, DPH was awarded very competitive Affordable Care Act funds to transform five Connecticut Counties by building infrastructure aimed at increasing physical activity opportunities and improving access to healthy foods in their communities. These funds have allowed Connecticut’s communities to assess community needs and implement proven policy, systems and environmental change strategies that are sustainable for long-term chronic disease and obesity reduction in the state.
“To reverse the trend of obesity and prevent the onset of chronic disease, it is critical that parents, schools, communities and policymakers work together to implement proven strategies which directly impact overweight and obesity across Connecticut communities,” said Dr. Mullen.