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Home News Childhood Obesity Is a Major Public Health Problem
David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
575-649-0754 Mobile

Childhood Obesity Is a Major Public Health Problem


It is a problem that weighs heavily on New Mexico – literally. Rates of obesity remain high for adults and children alike in New Mexico.

Earlier this month, The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announced data released by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the state’s adult obesity rate increased minimally in 2015. In fact, every state in the country reported having more than 1 in 5 adults (20 percent) that are obese.

In 2015, more than one-in-four (25.6%) kindergarten students in New Mexico were overweight or obese, according to NMDOH. That compares to about 1 of every 5 (17%) children in the United States who are estimated to be obese.

Whether a child is overweight or, worse, obese is determined by the CDC’s body mass index (BMI). Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex. Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex.

While there is no single or simple solution, National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month provides an opportunity for learning about ways to prevent and address what is a serious public health problem nationwide.

The good news for New Mexico is child obesity rates are declining – and have for years now.  Rates for third graders have gone from 22.6 percent in 2010 to 18.9 percent in 2015 – a 16.4 percent decline.

It’s important for our children to get those numbers to decline even more. That’s because children who are obese are more likely to grow up to be obese adults. Bad health habits as kids can lead to lifelong health problems, from diabetes to increased risk of certain cancers and more.

NMDOH and the CDC have some ways to help prevent obesity and support healthy growth in children

  • To help ensure that children have a healthy weight, energy balance is important. To achieve this balance, parents can make sure children get adequate sleep, limit sedentary activities like watching to television or playing video games to no more than two hours a day, take part in regular physical activity, and eat the right amount of calories.
  • Parents can substitute higher nutrient, lower calorie foods such as fruit and vegetables in place of foods with higher-calorie ingredients, such as added sugars and solid fats.
  • Parents can serve children fruit and vegetables at meals and as snacks.
  • Parents can ensure access to water as a no-calorie alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Parents can help children get the recommended amount of physical activity each day by encouraging them to participate in activities that are age-appropriate and enjoyable. Aerobic activity should make up most of a child's 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day.

For more information on childhood obesity and tips to keep you and your child healthy, visit Healthy Kids New Mexico.


Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.


Versión en Español

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La obesidad infantil es un problema importante de salud pública