Iowa working to reduce high child obesity rate

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

DES MOINES, Iowa - A new report says Iowa has the seventh highest adult obesity rate in the country, and the 14th highest among kids ages 10 to 17.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation childhood obesity report is based on data from 2017 and 2018, showing 16.4% of Iowa children in the age group have obesity.

The rate has increased among high school kids to 15.3% in 2017, up from just over 11% in 2007. The report shows Mississippi has the highest childhood obesity rate, at 25.4%. Utah had the lowest, at 8.7%.

Erin Olson with the Iowa Department of Public Health says the state has identified trends in its high rate of obesity. "We are seeing the trends in incomes, higher rates of obesity in lower incomes, and then also in African American and Hispanic populations," said Olson.

Iowa is using a program called "5-2-1-0" to battle against the high childhood obesity rate.

"5-2-1-0" refers to five fruits and vegetables every day along with (2) two-hours or less of recreational screen time, (1) one-hour of physical activity and 0 sugary drinks.

The program was adopted in Iowa in 2017. It started in Maine 13 years ago and has been widely adopted since.

Olson notes 5-2-10 is part of an effort to address obesity by educating people about healthy eating and providing physical outlets for exercise.

She says says numerous state agencies have joined together to promote 5-2-1-0 program. "A group of Iowa stakeholders around nutrition and physical activities came together and said, 'We're all saying the same thing, but we're saying it in a different way. It would be really great if we have one message for our state."

One bright spot in the latest Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report shows the state's obesity rate declined among 2- to 4-year-olds enrolled in the WIC nutrition program from 2010 to 2014. The rate of obesity dropped from 15.6% to 14.7%.

WIC, which provides food and nutrition education for mothers and children under age 5, serves close to half of all infants born in the U.S.

The foundation's report is titled "State of Childhood Obesity: Helping All Children Grow up Healthy."

Iowa's adult obesity rate is currently 35.3%, up from 20.9% in 2000 and from 12.2% in 1990. Adult obesity rates are at least 35% in nine states, top 30% in 31 states, and 25% in 48 states.

CLICK HERE for 2018 U.S. Obesity Map from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention