Local programs combating childhood obesity

The childhood obesity rate is 30% in Nebraska.
The childhood obesity rate is 30% in Nebraska.(Marresa Burke)
Published: May. 1, 2022 at 10:55 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - In Nebraska, the childhood obesity rate is 30%, and the rate for adults is around 28%. A healthy family dynamic can contribute to the obesity rate. Physicians monitor a child’s development through yearly wellness exams and guidance from the growth chart, which compares a child’s height and weight.

According to physicians, obesity rates are calculated when children track above the 99th percentile. If a child begins tracking into the 90th percentile, physicians advise parents to speak with their medical providers.

Physicians explain that childhood obesity can stem from more than issues with food or activity levels. It takes time to get to know the family and child to assess the problem.

“A large component is the quality of food and particularly, that means junk food,” said Stacey Coppersmith, Physician Assistant for Great Plains Health Family Medicine. “People’s main excuses are about celebrations, but all the holidays, birthdays and gatherings can be celebrated without junk foods.”

In some cases, families cannot provide healthy food. Luckily, there are school-assisted programs. The organization, Building Health Families, teaches families how to provide healthy meals and navigate the process to create healthier habits.

“Obese children become obese adults,” said Coppersmith. “In the fight against childhood obesity, we are looking at an entire generation that will be predisposed to heart disease and depression. Battling this trend will lead to better outcomes.”

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