It’s no secret that the childhood obesity rate is on the rise.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says childhood obesity has more than doubled over the past 30 years.
The statistic is even more alarming here in West Virginia, where 35.5 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 fit into the medical definition of “obesity,” compared to the national average of 31.6. The state ranks 44 out of 50.
Thankfully, there are programs in place geared toward reversing that trend.
Consider the West Virginia University School of Medicine’s Coronary Artery Risk Detection in Appalachian Communities Program, also known as CARDIAC. For 16 years, that program has been used to measure the body mass index of second- and fifth-grade students annually to track students’ obesity rates and health status, including their blood pressure, blood lipid profile and evidence of preliminary stages of diabetes. It’s the largest comprehensive screening program of its kind for school-aged children in the country, and it’s screened 183,241 children in West Virginia.
Past CARDIAC screenings show that the obesity rate among second-graders participating in the program has increased from 17.6 percent in 2005-06 to 20.9 percent in 2013-14. At the fifth-grade level, the obesity percentage in the first year was 24.8; now, it’s 22.3. So even though it’s dropped slightly, it’s still higher than it is in second grade, which means things are getting worse as students get older.
Here in Marion County, students who have their parents’ permission are tested each year in school. That’s because education officials take seriously the risks the CDC reports obese children are more likely to face, including risk factors for cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems, and sleep apnea. In addition, once the risks are identified, officials can work harder to prevent them from happening.
That’s done in a variety of ways, explained Marion County Superintendent Gary Price.
“Not only do we comply with the guidelines as far as required phys-ed and required child nutrition, but we also try to take an active role in trying to provide additional opportunities for physical activity and trying to help with providing not only nutritious meals but nutritious snacks when they’re available,” Price said.
The effort will continue in the next school year when the Marion County Board of Education kicks off its Farms to Schools initiative in the spring. That program will allow schools to buy produce, meats and eggs from local farms for lunches. Schools also try to limit students’ carbohydrate intake to avoid going over their recommended daily consumption, and they help curb overeating by discouraging children from having second helpings of food if they’ve already had plenty to eat.
The schools themselves have also been offering more family programs, like Blackshere Elementary’s Family Fitness Night. The programs are educational and help encourage parents to be physically active as a family and provide healthy lunch and snack options for their children outside of school.
“The main things those do is try to raise the level of awareness that adults need to set the example,” Price said. “Students do need to be physically active, but they often reflect the same exercise and food selection choices that their parents do. If the parents bring home chips and pop instead of juice and vegetables, then that’s what the kids will have to eat.”
We know the childhood obesity rate won’t decrease overnight. But a joint effort between parents and schools should help get the ball rolling in the right direction.
It’s no secret that the childhood obesity rate is on the rise.
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Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions
This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year
It’s happening again.
It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.
County honors men who gave all in helping their community
The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.
State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less
The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
Let’s not do that again.
Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past
Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.
COLUMN: Who would leave animal in sweltering car?
I was standing and debating between two brands of a product in a big box store when I heard a call over the intercom:
“Will the owner of a green Cavalier with a dog inside please report to the lawn and garden center.”
I shook my head. I hate seeing dogs in cars waiting while their owners shop. About five minutes later, there was another announcement over the intercom.
We must take all weather emergency alerts seriously
In a weather emergency, every second counts.
Think back to the derecho that devastated the state just two years ago. The powerful wind storm caused nearly 700,000 people in West Virginia to lose electricity, some who didn’t have power restored for weeks. A state of emergency was declared, and all but two of the state’s 55 counties sustained some damage or loss of power.
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