MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Just over 10 percent of kids in Minnesota, ages 10 to 17, are obese, according to analysis and data released Wednesday, putting the state at the low end of the national scale.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest U.S. philanthropy group focused solely on health, says that when looking at national survey data from 2016 and 2017, its researchers found that Minnesota was among the states with the lowest child obesity rates.
Even so, the numbers aren’t that great.
Minnesota measured up at 10.4 percent, topped only by Washington (10.1 percent), New Hampshire (9.8 percent) and Utah (8.7 percent).
(Wisconsin landed at No. 31, with a rate of 14.3 percent.)
The states with the highest obesity rates were Kentucky (19.3 percent), West Virginia (20.4 percent) and Mississippi (26.1 percent).
The national average was 15.8 percent.
The foundation, citing a 2017 scientific paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, say that it’s predicted that half of today’s children will be obese by the time they’re 35, if current trends continue.
“Far too many young people in this country are facing increased chances of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, all due to a preventable condition,” said Jamie Bussel, the senior program officer at the foundation.
Also of concern are disparities seen in obesity rates of children when broken down by race.
Black and Latino children are significantly more likely than their white counterparts to face problems with obesity.
The new data shows that, on the national level, the black youth obesity rate (22.5 percent) nearly doubles that of the white rate (12.5 percent). Meanwhile, the rate for Latino youth is up at 20.6 percent.
Asian youth have the lowest obesity rate by far, sitting at just 6.4 percent.
To combat the negative health effects of obesity, the foundation recommends that lawmakers strengthen nutritional resources for low-income families, make sure that public schools offer at least an hour of physical education or activity a day, and require food and beverage companies to not target children for unhealthy products.