Make Ends Meet: High childhood obesity rates caused by equity gaps
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - New data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, America’s largest philanthropic organization focused solely on health, said they found one in six young people in the United States has obesity.
People can face consequences when they are unable to pay for the things needed to live a healthy, happy life.
Many people have been calling more than ever for a more equitable America. There are huge gaps between those who are and are not doing well.
Those financial, racial and educational gaps may not be something on a person’s mind but it can affect your wallet.
“Childhood obesity rates remain far too high in our nation,” stressed Jamie Bussel, Senior Program Officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Bussel said around 23% of Kentucky youth face obesity issues. In Indiana, 15.6% of children between 10 and 17 are obese, placing the Hoosier state at number 24 in the country.
“It really puts kids at greater risk for some pretty grim health outcomes, like type 2 diabetes, like heart disease, hypertension and even some types of cancer,” Bussel said. ”Children of color and children who live furthest from economic opportunity continue to be of greatest risk.”
The Foundation is working to help advance changes, to ensure all children are able to grow up at a healthy weight, and have a healthy start in life. If parents find it difficult to access affordable, healthy foods and safe places to be active, it’s likely that outcome will cost us all.
“Millions of families are struggling with food insecurity,” Bussel said. “Our nation’s safety net we know is fragile, outdated and out of reach for so many. So many kids and families.”
Bussel and the foundation said this study is a warning that our policies are failing our children. Childhood obesity alone is estimated to cost $14 billion dollars annually in direct health expenses.
”This is an issue and a crisis across the nation,” Bussel said. “We all have our work cut out for us.”
Obesity rates are highest among Black, hispanic, American Indian and Alaska native youth compared to white and Asian youth.
“Every parent in this country is trying to do the best they possibly can for their children,” Bussel said. “No matter what that parent is doing in the house, as optimal as it might be, if the environment around that family is not supportive, then that family then that parent is going to have a really hard job.”
For the full report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, click or tap here.
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