Pulled from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention archives
With the release of the most recent data-set from the WIC program -- using 2010 data -- Kentucky is shows above-normal obesity levels among low-income children 2-4 years old. In McCracken County, data suggested 13.29 percent of children older than 2 are considered obese in this category.
In an annual report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data suggests McCracken County children from low-income families are hovering around the state average for pediatric obesity rates.
And while settling in at the average range might not seem that bad, when looking at where the state compares as a whole nationwide, there’s more of a cause for concern.
According to the most recent data-set of the CDC’s 2010 Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System — an annual child-based public health report that monitors indicators of nutritional status, including obesity, among children who participate in publicly funded health programs — the state averaged a range of 15 to 20 percent obesity in low-income children aged 2-4 years old.
Nationwide, the state was one of 12 among that range for the age group, while the majority of states monitored averaged about 10 to 15 percent.
In McCracken County, data revealed that 18.4 percent of 6,356 children who are less than 2 years are obese; 15.2 percent of 2,537 children who are 2 years of age or older were overweight; and 13.29 percent of those 2,537 children older than 2 were considered obese.
“This is kind of an eye-opener for people,” said Kelly Alsip, Purchase District WIC Program coordinator and nutritionist.
“PedNSS data covers a lot of different areas, but I find this area to be one of the problems every year. We do have really high obesity rates.”
Alsip suggested using a child’s body mass index as an effective tool to screen for whether a child is underweight, normal or overweight, and can be helpful indicators for deciding if the child is at risk for further health problems. The BMI is calculated through age, gender, height and weight.
Children with a BMI between the 85th and 94th percentiles are typically considered overweight, and BMI’s above the age and gender specific 95th percentile of the population is considered obese, Alsip wrote.
Parents are encouraged to monitor a child’s BMI regularly and should set examples for healthy eating and behaviors, Alsip said.
“Parents need to start setting good examples themselves by being good roles models,” she said. “Eat healthy foods themselves. Don’t purchase the high-fat, high-sugar foods because if it’s in the house, it’s going to be eaten and it’s going to be eaten before the healthy food.”
Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have nearly tripled and, today, nearly one in three children across the nation are obese, according to the CDC.
Though the data only measures children within publicly funded health programs in the county, such as WIC or Food Stamps, the data is not indicative of the entire population. While such health programs offer incentives to purchase healthier food items, the data should be viewed as a supplement to the obesity debate, Alsip said.
For more information about the federally funded, supplemental nutrition program WIC — for women, infants and children — contact the McCracken County Health Center at 270-444-9631.
Call Will Pinkston, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.