Height and Weight Report finds majority of school district's students overweight

By Kristan Krogman

The South Dakota School Height and Weight Report has been released for the 2012-13 school year. The Height and Weight Report is a summary of height and weight data submitted by schools voluntarily, with this year’s data taken from just over thirty five percent of the state’s school children (190 participating schools). This data has now been collected and analyzed for close to fifteen years.

Through data submitted by participating schools, analysis is offered in regards to short stature, underweight, overweight, and obesity as compared to national standards. The main focus leans toward overweight and obesity as “South Dakota students  as a whole are neither short nor underweight.” An overweight classification results when BMI-for-age is listed between the 85th and 94th percentile; obese when the percentile exceeds 95.

The White River School District was among the schools participating in the most recent survey. They were ranked as follows in each category: 3% short stature (less than the 5th percentile); 2% underweight (less than the 5th percentile; 21% overweight; and 32.3% obese.  

These numbers compared with the overall numbers throughout the state of: 3.2 % short stature; 2.8% underweight; 16.6% overweight; and 16.0% obese.

The state is grouped into six regions for the study with students of region seven (west central and southwest corner) ranking the lowest overall with a combined overweight/obese percentage of 28.5. The largest overall percentage of overweight and obese combined came from region number five (north central and northwest) with a total of 45.1%.

Other breakdowns of combined overweight/obese ranged between thirty and thirty nine percent save for those age 5/8 (28.7%; White students (29.8%); and American Indian (48.6%). It was noted that though American Indians make up 15.4% of the state’s students, only 9.8% of the students surveyed were American Indian. 

Interestingly, gender seemed to be a non-factor in determining the prevalence of overweight/obese cases. Females saw a combined total of 32.1% of students recorded in the overweight/obese category, while males were only slightly higher at 3.1%.

The national Healthy People 2020 is central in the collection of data such as that presented in the School Height and Weight Report. The initiative is meant to “reduce the proportion of children and adolescents who are considered obese”. The goal range is to have the percentages of obese between fourteen and seventeen percent (various numbers for different ages).

Obesity in children comes with a number of possible associated problems that could include psychological/psychiatric/cardiovascular problems, inflammation, diabetes, and asthma and usually carries on into adulthood. The focus of the 2020 initiative is to reduce these effects by zeroing in on the most common causes of obesity -- poor nutritional habits and physical inactivity.

Part of that focus has resulted in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that resulted in the USDA having established various nutrition standards for all food sold in schools, including vending and snacks. Starting in 2013-14 a number of factors will limited food and beverages sold in schools. Beverages are basically limited to water, unflavored milk or fat free, 100% juice; and among the choices for food are whole-grain rich, contain first ingredient of one of the main food groups, contain 10% daily value of calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or fiber). These regulations do not necessarily affect holiday/birthday celebrations, concession stands, or fundraisers.

Also part of the focus on reducing obesity is a guide for bringing more activity into the schools. The Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP) is meant to help students get sixty minutes of physical activity every day. The Center for Disease Control released the guide in hopes that schools would use the CSPAP to help their students become more active. The five branches of the program include getting students moving through staff involvement, physical activity during school, physical education, physical activity before and after school, and family and community engagement.

You can find more on the Height and Weight Report at http:doh.sd.gov/statistics or other information on www.healthysd.gov

 Box F, White River, SD 57579 • 605-259-3642 • mcnews@gwtc.net

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