16 percent of Alabama’s impoverished pre-schoolers are obese

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ASSOCIATED PRESS: Statistics show about 16 percent of low-income Alabama preschoolers are obese, and the problem is getting worse.

A report based on 2014 statistics from the Women, Infants and Children feeding program shows that 16.3 percent of children ages 2 to 4 in the program were obese.

That’s an increase from about 14 percent of children in 2000, when Alabama was ranked 18th nationally in the obesity statistics.

The state is now ranked 10th nationally, and statistics show the problem is getting worse. Nationally, the obesity rate about 2- to 4-year-olds is on the decline.

The report was released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health. Rates decreased in 31 states, increased in four, and remained the same in the rest from 2010 to 2014.

So why?

The Food Research and Action Center lists several reasons on its website.

  • Low-income neighborhoods frequently lack full-service grocery stores and farmers’ markets where residents can buy a variety of high-quality fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products
  • According to USDA, “vehicle access is perhaps the most important determinant of whether or not a family can access affordable and nutritious food”
  • When available, healthy food may be more expensive in terms of the monetary cost as well as (for perishable items) the potential for waste, whereas refined grains, added sugars, and fats are generally inexpensive, palatable, and readily available in low-income communities
  • Low-income communities have greater availability of fast food restaurants, especially near schools
  • Those who are eating less or skipping meals to stretch food budgets may overeat when food does become available, resulting in chronic ups and downs in food intake that can contribute to weight gain
  • Crime, traffic, and unsafe playground equipment are common barriers to physical activity in low-income communities
  • Low-income children are less likely to participate in organized sports

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