Obesity Rate in Children in Central VA Alarming, According to Study

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April 9, 2013

A nearly two year study involving dozens of health organizations identified one bring problem in central Virginia; obesity.

"We would love to see the community become aware of these data and also try to get involved," said Dr. Lilian Peake, the director of the Thomas Jefferson Health District.

The study, released as part of the Mobilizing for action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP), shows the problem is only getting worse. Between 2007 and 2010, health officials saw the sharpest increase in obesity since 2000.

"The increase of obesity in our country over the last 20 years blows your mind," said Judy Berger, the Livable Community Planner with the Jefferson Area Board for Aging. "We are so amazed at how much we are getting less and less healthy."

Nearly one third of adults are overweight. But the statistic that's even more alarming for health officials, is that almost half of fifth graders are overweight or obese. The numbers are scaring for organizations like JABA.

"Studies show obese children in fifth grade remain obese through high school and throughout their life, which means by the time they get to be seniors they will have already accrued amazing amounts of health care costs," said Berger.

The study was released by the MAPP 2 Health Leadership Council, as part of the Planning District 10's community health assessment and improvement plan. More than 60 agencies in the Thomas Jefferson Health District joined forces to collect data. The counties included Albemarle, Greene, Louisa, Fluvanna, Nelson, and the City of Charlottesville.

The four public health areas identified as priorities included, obesity, access to mental health and substance abuse services, pregnancy outcomes and tobacco use. For a look at the full report, visit www.tjhd.org

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