North Dakota shows big drop in childhood obesity

Childhood obesity has long been a problem in the US. North Dakota was ranked the second worst state for childhood obesity last year.

According to a new study, North Dakota is now the number one state that has decreased childhood obesity.

I talked to North Dakota’s School Health Specialist who said that bad ranking is what inspired them to do something.

She says they have been working with schools all around North Dakota, training and informing administrators on ways to make schools healthier. They don’t only focus on healthier eating habits but ways to keep students physically active too.

North Dakota’s childhood obesity rate was 15.8% in 2016. In two years, it’s dropped to 12.5%, that’s over 3 percent in two years.
 
School Health Specialist for North Dakota, Sarah Massey, says North Dakota has been so successful in reducing obesity by making schools more aware of the issue.
 
“We want a whole healthy school environment not just a cafeteria environment.”
 
Massey explains some of the things they teach.
 
“Some examples of those are just placing fruit baskets. Have fruit and vegetables at 2 different locations. Giving entrees creative names to entice those kids to make healthy choices,” says Massey.
 
Principal at Simle Middle School, Russ Riehl, says its not just about getting students to eat healthy.
 
Russ Riehl:”It’s not just a matter of eating less but a combination of what you eat, the frequency of what you eat, and of course what kind of exercise and cardiovascular are we implementing at the same time.
Riehl says they have made P.E a year long program and have been offering more physical education elective courses to encourage students to be active. In addition they say they have added salad bars and extra breaks throughout the day to keep students moving.
 
Parent, Ryan Clark, says just talking about living a healthy lifestyle is one way he encourages his children to eat healthy and stay active.
 
Ryan Clark//Parent Band Director: I think just talking with them about it. You know what does it mean to be healthy and the idea like ice cream is good and we all like it and it’s ok – not everyday and not multiple times a day. And letting them know what the should have not should not have so as the get older they can make those choices. “
 
Massey and Riehl say they are continuing on coming up with ways to keep the childhood obesity rate dropping. They hope the rate keeps on going down and more schools will start making healthier choices.
 

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