Decrease in Childhood Obesity
The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that childhood obesity rates among New Mexico 3rd grade students continue to decline, with a 20 percent decrease since 2010. In 2010, 22.6 percent of 3rd grade students were obese, compared to 18.1 percent in 2014. Also, for the first time since the Department began collecting Body Mass Index (BMI) data in 2010, obesity prevalence rates in New Mexico kindergarten students are lower than in 2010, going from 13.2 percent to 11.6 percent in 2014.
“We are encouraged by this downward trend in childhood obesity in New Mexico children. It proves that we can make a difference when people come together to address serious health problems,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward. “Yes, there is more work to be done, but clearly we have the tools and the strategies for combating this serious health issue.”
Governor Susana Martinez and the New Mexico Department of Health are working hard to increase opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating for New Mexico children through its Healthy Kids New Mexico Program. It’s a collaborative effort that includes many partners at the local and state level, including the New Mexico Public Education Department, Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), the Human Services Department and the Department of Transportation. Healthy Kids New Mexico and over 300 state and local partners have collectively leveraged at least $3,911,322 since October 2011.
Healthy eating and active living are the two major lifestyle choices that can prevent obesity and subsequent chronic disease.
“By transforming the environment and expanding opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity, Healthy Kids New Mexico and its state and local partners are improving the health of New Mexico’s children as well as the health of the families and communities in which they live, learn, and play,” added Secretary Ward.
“What’s exciting about this year’s findings is the decrease in obesity rates for our kindergarten students,” said Patty Morris, Ph.D., Director of the Department of Health’s Office of Nutrition and Physical Activity. ”If we can prevent obesity from occurring at very young ages, we can hopefully help shape behaviors that support healthy lifestyles later in life.”
Over the last 3 years, Healthy Kids New Mexico, in partnership with CYFD, has been working with New Mexico’s licensed childcare centers to increase healthy eating and physical activity opportunities for pre-school children. Roughly 42,000 preschool children attend licensed centers.
“Sustainable environmental, policy, and systems changes require the concerted efforts of families, schools, communities, and local government,” said Morris. “Some of our biggest champions are at the local level, where community members are actively leading the effort to make sustainable changes that make sense for their communities.”
The input and the endless work at the local level have made Healthy Kids the successful project it is today. The efforts are paying off:
- Eighty-three percent (31,590) of students in participating elementary schools have increased healthy eating opportunities, such as pre-made salads, tasting classes, and fruit and vegetable school snacks three times a week.
- Sixty-four percent (24,278) of students in participating elementary schools have increased physical activity opportunities before, during, and after school on an ongoing and regular basis, such as walk and bike to school, mileage clubs and fitbreaks in the classroom.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is highlighting New Mexico’s success at reducing childhood obesity in its Signs of Progress Report. The report uses the Department of Health’s 2010 - 2013 childhood obesity data.
March, which is National Nutrition Month, is a good time to begin thinking about making lifestyle choices The New Mexico Department recommends the following tips:
- Prepare more meals as a family. Eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day and drink plenty of water to quench thirst.
- Downsize portions.
- Get at least one hour of physical activity a day.
- Limit screen time and encourage alternate forms of entertainment
- Ask your doctor or school nurse if your child is overweight or obese.
For more healthy eating tips and information, vitis the Healthy Kids New Mexico section of our website.
We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact Kenny Vigil at 505-827-2619 (Office) or 505-470-2290 (Mobile) with your questions.
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