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Weighty Issue

Pete Springer/OPB

Who is ultimately responsible for curbing childhood obesity?

It’s no secret that teenagers and pre-teens struggle to feel comfortable in their bodies. They worry about being too tall or too short or too fat. While height tends to even out with age, weight is often a different story.

Childhood obesity has been called an American epidemic and a new study suggests a strong link between heart disease and obesity at a young age. At the same time, another report shows kids have less time to play outside and stay active in school. While it appears that the rate of obesity among American youth is no longer on the rise, 16 percent of the nation’s young people are obese and about a third are considered overweight.

Oregon’s children are not immune from this national problem. An estimated one in four eighth graders in the state were obese or at-risk in 2005, according to a report released last year by the Oregon Health Policy Commission. The state legislature passed a bill (pdf) last year restricting the amounts of fat and sugar in snacks and beverages sold in school vending machines. But obesity is a complex problem, which involves not only diet and fitness but social, economic and psychological factors as well.

Have you struggled with childhood obesity? Are you the parent of an overweight or at-risk kid? Are you a teacher or school counselor? What barriers do you see for kids who are fighting the battle of the bulge? Who is ultimately responsible for preventing childhood obesity?


Photo credit: Nick J Webb / Flickr / Creative Commons

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