Childhood obesity rates decline in Georgia and 18 other states - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Childhood obesity rates decline in Georgia and 18 other states

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Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, that's according to the Centers of Disease Control.

A recent study released by the CDC reports Georgia and 18 other states are making great strides in the battle against the bulge in children from low-income homes.

We sat down with a nutritionist who says she believes Georgia is moving in the right direction to combat this very big epidemic.

Statistics show about 1 in 8 preschoolers are obese in the United States.

"It really hurts me because I know it's not that child's fault," Nutrition Specialist with the Muscogee County School District Karen Davis says.

Minority and low-income children are disproportionately affected by childhood obesity.  According to the CDC about 38 percent of blacks and 32 percent of Hispanic children are obese compared to 28 percent of white children.

Davis says as a mother of two she says she has a personal connection to helping children eat healthy.

"We are trying to implement healthier new initiatives here in Muscogee County and I feel like it is working," says Davis.

Statistics are showing the work being done in Georgia to combat childhood obesity may be working.  

"I educate these children about healthy eating. Sometimes we'll do activities. We'll have taste test as the schools just to show them and introduce new fruits, new vegetables so they can taste it and to see if they like it," says Davis.

For the first time in decades the needle on the scale is showing signs of dialing back in low-income preschoolers around the country. Georgia is one of 19 states showing improvements.

"I'm excited about it. The kids are starting to transition and adapt to the new guidelines," Davis exclaims.

With Georgia  becoming one of 10 states to participate in a federal program designed to help more students get free and reduced priced meals and the U-S-D-A regulating what type of foods are put on school menu's, it's possible for the numbers to decrease even more.

"I think it does have an impact on the numbers decreasing because these kids are getting healthy lunches and also we are doing nutrition education with these kids so they're taking this home hopefully with them and educating their parents and wanting to eat healthy," Davis says.

There are ways you can help your child eat healthier, according to http://www.helpguide.org:

  • Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school.
  • Cook more meals at home. Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for kids about the importance of food. Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar, and salt. Save dining out for special occasions.
  • Get kids involved. Children enjoy helping adults to shop for groceries, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. It's also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and (for older children) how to read food labels.
  • Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible so kids become used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of empty calorie snacks like soda, chips, or cookies.
  • Limit portion sizes. Don't insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe. 

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