A ‘Losing’ Battle On Childhood Obesity?

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From Your Health Journal…..”I visit the Metro West Daily News on a regular basis, as it is one of those local papers that frequently has some great health stories. Please visit their web site (link below) to view many great articles, including the one being reviewed here today. Yesterday, I discussed how childhood obesity is declining in some demographics, but not a reason to jump for joy yet, as it is improvements in isolated areas of the United States. In today’s article, it asks a question I brought up yesterday about what caused some areas of the US to have a decline in childhood obesity – what EXACTLY did those areas do to have success. In the town of Northborough, they have had some success lowing the BMI scores of many students. A child’s BMI (Body Mass Index) is determined by age, gender, height and weight. An age and gender percentile categorizes children’s BMI as underweight, healthy, overweight or obese. This is a town trying to make a difference, and should be commended for their hard work helping children lead healthier lifestyles. To find out more about their success, please visit the Metro West Daily News site to read the complete article. Happy new year everyone!”

From the article…..

National efforts are being made to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity, but little data is available to guide towns on what works and what doesn’t.

Northborough, however, has become a regional model for fostering healthier generations, and now several cities and towns are following suit in hopes of achieving similar results.

Since its “Building A Healthier Northborough” initiative began in 2009, there has been a substantial decline in the town’s percentage of overweight and obese youths in grades one, four, seven and 10, according to body-mass-index (BMI) data submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).

A child’s BMI is determined by age, gender, height and weight. An age and gender percentile categorizes children’s BMI as underweight, healthy, overweight or obese.

BMI for age percentiles greater than or equal to the 85th percentile but less than the 95th percentile are considered overweight. When a child’s BMI for age percentile is equal to or greater than the 95th percentile, the child is considered obese.

Northborough saw a 20-percent decrease in the percentage of overweight and obese youths in surveyed grades between 2009 and 2011, according to the DPH’s 2011 report of the Status of Childhood Weight in Massachusetts.

Northborough Program Coordinator Tamara Calise, of the JSI Research and Training Institute, said a small work group comprised of members from a number of town departments made it possible to coordinate anti-obesity efforts.

The town planner created bylaws to promote more walking around Northborough and members of Youth and Family Services used their connections with the schools to move recess times and create guidelines that ask teachers not to give out candy as a reward or hold a child out of recess as punishment for bad behavior, Calise said.

Calise has now taken on the role of project coordinator for the MetroWest Moves partnership, which was started earlier this year and includes Framingham, Hudson and Marlborough. The latter two communities have some of the highest percentages of overweight and obese youth in the region.

To read the full article…..Click here