In Texas, nearly one third of children are overweight or obese. It puts the Lone Star 6th in the nation for childhood obesity. Closer to home, Houston is among the top-10 Overweight Cities according to the American Obesity Society. Doctor Deanna Hoelscher with the University of Texas School of Public Health in Austin directs the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living. She says children with obesity will have higher health costs in the future.
“It’s estimated that Texas spent about 10.5 billion dollars on obesity-related medical costs in 2001. By 2040, those costs are thought to escalate to 39 billion dollars. So, that’s a tremendous amount of money that the taxpayers will be taking care of.”
Some claim overweight parents beget overweight children, while others argue nurture not nature is at fault. One thing is certain, studies show children spend more time in front of the television, computer and video console, and less time outdoors engaged in some type of physical activity. Doctor Liliana Escobar-Chaves is with the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research at the UT School of Public Health.
“It is important to know that Houston families and their kids at this moment are consuming an amount of 6-hours and 10-minutes per day, involved in TV and in other media.”
Health experts and community leaders gathered to hear some ways to address the problem.
Bob Sanborn: “They’re not difficult: physical activity and nutrition.”
Dr. Bob Sanborn is president and CEO of Children at Risk. He says parents must be more aware of the efforts to help their children. He also says lawmakers must reinstitute physical activity in schools and federal funding be maximized for school food programs to provide nutritious meals to students.
“What all these experts are saying is that we have this problem right now in Houston. Things need to change in regards to the weight level of our children. And so, as a public we need to say, ‘OK, how can we all work together?’ It’s not just a parental concern, it’s everyone’s concern.”
More information can be found at http://www.childrenatrisk.org/.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.