POSTED: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 4:12pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 5:07am
SANTA FE, N.M. – A study released Tuesday revealed that 15 percent of kindergarten students and over 21 percent of third graders are obese. The study, titled "The Weight of Our Children: 2011 New Mexico Childhood Obesity Report" was released by the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH).
“Obesity at a young age can have a very serious effect on the overall health of children and can lead to other negative health conditions later in life such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes,” said DOH Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Catherine Torres. “This report should be a call to action for families, schools, communities and the state to help children at younger ages develop healthy eating and active living behaviors and to create the environmental and policy changes to promote these behaviors.”
Patty Morris, director of DOH’s Office of Nutrition and Physical Activity, said in addition to childhood obesity increasing the risk of high cholesterol, hypertension and other precursors to cardiovascular disease, childhood obesity is also associated with increases in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in children, which can lead to liver scarring and cirrhosis.
“Type 2 diabetes is no longer called adult-onset because of its alarming rates in our youth, a phenomenon that rarely existed a generation ago. In the 1980s, type 2 diabetes was virtually unknown in teens,” said Morris, who developed the new report. “Obese children also may be more vulnerable to weight-based bullying and social isolation, thereby resulting in a greater risk of low self-esteem, depression and suicide.”
In an effort to address the obesity crisis, DOH is involved in the Healthy Kids New Mexico program and is implementing new community-based programs that will be funded by the Community Transformation Grant. Healthy Kids New Mexico creates healthy programs for schools to give kids what they need to play well, eat well, learn and live fully.
In 2011, DOH received $1.5 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and this funding of is the first of what is expected to be a five year award totaling $7.5 million towards prevention. The Department will target prevention strategies in 10 counties and 4 tribal communities in New Mexico. Doña Ana County is among those counties.
To read more about the study, click here: “The Weight of our Children; 2011 New Mexico Childhood Obesity Report” can be found online at www.nmhealth.org/go/2011ChildhoodObesityReport .
For more information about the Healthy Kids New Mexico program go online to www.healthykidsnm.org .