Rhode Island: 4th Lowest In Obesity Rates
The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) is pleased to announce that Rhode Island now has the fourth lowest overall obesity rate (21%) in the country. The reports also shows that the percentage of Rhode Island children who are overweight or obese is 26% and that 24% of Rhode Island adults are physically inactive.
This information comes from the recent release of the report F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“The good news is that overall, Rhode Island has seen some improvement in obesity rates; however, 1 in 5 Rhode Island adults is obese,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. “Unfortunately, we did not see an improvement in childhood obesity rates. It is critical to instill healthy eating habits and a desire to be physically active early in children’s lives. Reducing childhood obesity plays a key role in preventing future health problems like diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.”
The report calls for a national strategy to combat obesity that includes policy change. HEALTH supported legislation this year to require restaurant menus to include a calorie count for all items on the menu. “Connecticut and Massachusetts have passed menu labeling legislation,” said Gifford. “It is time for Rhode Island to join its neighbors in this important public health effort.” Beginning in September 2009, all schools in the state will be required to implement nutrition standards in school lunch programs that exceed federal standards.
In addition, by October 2012, all public schools will be required to implement a performance-based physical education program. The report recommends that states continue supporting improved access to healthy and affordable foods and assuring insurance coverage for nutrition and obesity counseling.
HEALTH has determined that many unhealthy trends in the state and in the country contribute to the obesity epidemic. They include: · Americans consume an average of 300 more calories a day than they did in 1984. · Healthy foods cost more than unhealthy foods. · Americans walk less and drive more. · Parks and recreation spaces are not always safe or well maintained. · Children watch more TV and play more video and computer games.