SD Childhood Obesity Rates Stagnate

Mar 16, 2015

State health experts say that more than one third of South Dakota’s children are overweight or obese. That’s according to the most recent sampling from schools across the state. The numbers aren’t much worse than the previous year but they also aren’t any better.

Childhood obesity numbers in South Dakota have stagnated. That conclusion comes from a report that shows height and weight measurements for kids across the state. The latest numbers come from the 2013/ 2014 school year. Results show 15.8 percent of South Dakota kids are obese and another 16.5 percent are overweight. Those numbers are only a fraction of a percentage down from the year before.

Ashley Miller is a chronic disease epidemiologist for the Department of Health.

"This is a sample of our state, so it’s 175 schools that have submitted data, and that’s approximately 31.5 percent of the students in our state reporting. So we don’t capture all the students, but this gives us a good estimate of where we stand with childhood obesity," Miller says.

The survey includes children from age five to 19.

Miller says she wants to see the number of overweight or obese kids drop, but the department is seeing some progress because the rates aren’t climbing. Miller says programs exist in communities to support healthy eating habits and more physical activity.

"We also know that obese children tend to become obese adults, so just looking at the health problems related to obesity in general, whether you’re a child or an adult, the chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease and stroke as well can be linked to it," Miller says.

The state health department wants the percentage of obese students down to 14 percent. That goal is a nearly two percent decrease in kids who are obese by 2020.