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South Dakotas child obesity rate rises

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Kristin Biskeborn, (605) 734-4551


South Dakota’s Child Obesity Rate Rises


PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota’s child obesity rate rose slightly in the 2011-2012 school year with 15.9 percent of kids 19 and under reported as obese. That’s up from 15.2 percent the previous school year.


“Any increase, even a small one like this, is disappointing,” said Kristin Biskeborn, state nutritionist in the Department of Health. “We know that overweight and obese students become obese adults who develop more chronic disease than their peers who had healthy weights as children.”


The obesity rate was up for all student age groups and the overall rate is well above the department’s 2020 goal of a 14 percent obesity rate. South Dakota’s rate remains below the latest national obesity rate of 19.6 percent for the 19 and under age group.


A total of 187 schools submitted student height and weight data for the latest survey, accounting for 35.6 percent of students in the state. The survey defines obese as at or above the 95th percentile body mass index-for-age when compared to kids of the same age and gender; overweight is between the 85th and 94th percentiles.   


“Preventing obesity in kids is the key to addressing the nation’s obesity epidemic,” said Biskeborn. “There is a role for each one of us—parents, schools, communities—in providing healthy food and increasing access to physical activity for our kids.”


Biskeborn said the state Department of Health has two new resources to help with that effort. The Munch Code (www.munchcode.org/) offers healthy concessions information for schools and youth activities. Harvest of the Month (www.sdharvestofthemonth.org/) combines lessons and produce sampling to get kids eating more vegetables and fruit, one of six science-based strategies shown to prevent obesity. The others include increased physical activity, decreased television viewing, decreased sweetened beverage intake, decreased portion sizes, and increased breastfeeding.


The full student height weight report is available at doh.sd.gov/SchoolWeight




Improving the health of South Dakota children and adolescents by reducing overweight and obesity is one goal of the department’s Health 2020 Initiative.