Originally published August 15 2006
Preparation needed as children enter schools already overweight (press release)
A study published in the current issue of The Journal of School Health finds that nearly one quarter of children, ages three to five years, were entering school in Chicago overweight. For the authors, this is an urgent problem reflecting the nutritional status and health influence of the children's home and community. The results signify a need for schools, in and outside the Chicago area, to develop protocol and procedures to support the physical and mental health of overweight and at risk of overweight children. "Cities that lack data on the weight status of their young children can use the data from Chicago… to guide their planning until local data are available," the authors explain.
The height, weight, and age of more than 1,500 boys and girls from Chicago's public and Catholic schools were reviewed for the study. Twenty-four percent of the children were defined as "overweight," or having a sex- and age-specific body mass index (BMI) that was higher than ninety-five percent of their peers. This is more than twice the national prevalence of overweight children and three times that of the Midwest region. Sixteen percent were "at risk of overweight," with a BMI between the eighty-fifth and ninety-fourth percentile. "These results indicate an urgent problem facing Chicago children, families, health providers, and schools," the authors state. "Ongoing monitoring of child weight status is warranted."
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