Kentucky ranks 3rd in nation for childhood obesity

By Pam Ward, Western Baptist dietitian 

Obesity in the United States has increased tremendously in the last 20 years with more than one-third of Americans, or more than 78 million individuals, now considered obese. 

In the most recent statistics available from the Center for Disease Control, Kentucky was ranked fifth in the nation with more than 31 percent of residents falling into this category. Perhaps more troubling, the state is third in the nation for childhood obesity. An adult is considered obese with a BMI* greater than 30, while a child is considered obese with a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex. 

The health consequences for being overweight and obesity are significant, including increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, asthma, elevated cholesterol, certain types of cancer and sleep apnea.  Twenty years ago Type II diabetes was unheard of in children, but is now a growing problem with the increase in weight considered to be a major contributor. Obese children and adolescents also may suffer low self-esteem and social discrimination.

Tips to help avoid childhood obesity include:

  • Avoid breakfasts of processed pastries and sugar cereal. Provide fresh fruits, whole wheat and whole grain-based cereals.
  • Limit fast foods.
  • Encourage physical activity.
  • Don’t watch TV while eating. Limit overall TV viewing/computer/video games to one or two hours daily.
  • Encourage water or milk instead of sodas, ice tea, energy drinks and fruit drinks.
  • Keep healthy snacks available while limiting junk foods. Good choices for snacks include fresh fruits and vegetables, pretzels, yogurt and low fat cheese.
  • Watch portion sizes. The average portion size has increased significantly in the last two decades.
  • Remove calorie-rich temptations.
  • Set a good example. Children imitate what they see.

Western Baptist supports several programs aimed at educating, informing and alleviating the national epidemic of childhood obesity. Resources are available at westernbaptist/childhoodobesity.

Send us your health and nutrition questions, and our team of dietitians will answer them each Thursday. Check here next week for more tips and answers to your questions.

*BMI = (Weight in Pounds)

(Height in inches) x (Height in inches) x 703

About Baptist Health Paducah

Baptist Health Paducah is a regional medical and referral center, serving about 200,000 patients a year from four states. With more than 1,800 employees and 200 physicians, it offers a full range of services, including cardiac and cancer care, diagnostic imaging, women’s and children’s services, surgery, emergency treatment, rehabilitation and more. Since its humble beginning in 1953, Baptist Health Paducah has grown from 117 beds to 349 beds on a campus covering eight square blocks.
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