(SIOUX CITY, Iowa) – New reports from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation show more than 50,000 children ages 10 to 17 are obese in Iowa.
Michelle Lewis, the health promotion and planning coordinator at the Siouxland Health Department, explained how numbers are growing in the local WIC program.
“Around 2015 or 2016 around 11 percent of our WIC clients were obese. The following year, that number increased to 13 percent. So we are seeing a slight increase in obesity levels in children,” said Lewis.
The Siouxland Public Health Department has created programs to promote a healthy lifestyle for kids in the hope of bringing down the number of obese kids in the state.
“Obesity can lead to multiple things like diabetes, asthma and high cholesterol. We are simply partnering with the schools to do walk to school buses and school initiatives and bike to school initiatives,” said Lewis.
It’s not just kids in Iowa dealing with obesity, its also an issue for Nebraska schools according to the report.
Nebraska was ranked the 23rd state with the highest childhood obesity rate in the nation.
Judi Neswick, the school nurse for South Sioux City Schools, explained how the school is constantly working to encourage kids to stay active at school with gym exercises and healthy meals, but they said they need parents to keep up the encouragement after school.
“We know that up to a third of children in Nebraska are overweight or obese. I think parents can be a great role model to their kids by bringing the appropriate foods in the house, having the healthy snacks available and teaching them by being role models themselves,” said Neswick.
The local rankings have changed considerably since the last report was released in 2014.
At that time Iowa was ranked 21st and Nebraska was ranked 5th.
Today’s report shows Iowa had an increase in obesity rates while Nebraska saw a big decline.