MADISON, Wis. — A national report shows that height and weight measurements used to calculate body mass index indicate that Wisconsin’s adolescents are catching up to adult levels of obesity.
The 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health found that 30 percent of Wisconsin children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese, while the state’s adult rate of obesity is 31 percent.
“Children are very highly influenced on what adults are doing,” said Marisa Pruitt, a registered dietitian at Gundersen Health in La Crosse. “So if we have families that are just growing in general, of course the children would be growing as well, and so the obesity rate, though it isn’t surprising, is still something that is alarming.”
Health officials, schools and the La Crosse community hope to work with parents to address the issue, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
Obesity can cause children to develop other health problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Pruitt said those diseases are typically found in middle-age adults, so seeing them affect younger children is alarming.
“We’re encouraging families to provide five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day, two hours or less of recreational screen time, one hour of physical activity and zero sugar-sweetened beverages and an emphasis on increasing water,” Pruitt said.
The report found that Utah had the lowest percentage of overweight adolescents, at 19 percent. Tennessee had the highest rate, at 38 percent. The national average was just over 31 percent.