Recent statistics reveal chilling numbers concerning the incidence of childhood obesity in South Carolina. Dr. Valerie Scott, a Roper St. Francis Healthcare Physician Partner, shares these statistics and discusses ways the community can work together to positively impact the obesity epidemic in South Carolina.
The most recent statistics published by SC Department of Health and Environment Control (DHEC) reveals chilling numbers concerning the incidence of childhood obesity in South Carolina. According to DHEC, one in every three (31.7%) SC high school student is overweight or obese. The rates of obesity vary according to race and gender: obesity is more common in African American than white teenagers (39.8 % vs 25.3%) and in males more than females. Unfortunately statistics also predict that 70% of obese high school students will be obese or overweight as adults.
Obesity in childhood increases the risk of the children developing insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, elevated blood pressure, asthma, depression and poor self-esteem. Obesity in adolescence is also strongly associated with the child reaching a lower educational level than expected and earning lower income as an adult. In response to the growing childhood obesity rates, the American Heart Association has predicted that this is the first generation that will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
Studies have shown that the causes of overweight/obesity in children rarely stem from a medical problem but, more often, from a combination of genetics, diet and activity level. The DHEC study reveals that 85% of SC high school students report that they have not eaten the recommended five or more fruits and/or vegetables daily in the week prior to the survey. Nor are they getting enough exercise: 57% report not getting the recommended physical activity of 60 minutes a day, five times a week.
This information gives us an opportunity to plan ways to positively impact the obesity epidemic in South Carolina. Communities and organizations will need to work together to help with education but also to ensure affordable healthy foods and safe places to exercise. You can review the state of South Carolina’s campaign against obesity