WASHINGTON, D.C. – West Virginia is on the right track when it comes to reducing the number of obese children. A new study shows obesity among 5th graders, in the state, decreased by 8.6-percent between 2005 to 2011.
Dr. Jamie Jeffrey, the Medical Director of the Children’s Medical Center and Healthy Kids Pediatric Weight Management Program at Charleston Area Medical Center, said this is very good news.
Jeffrey was in Washington, D.C. Tuesday for Voices for Healthy Kids, a new collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association. The groups honored communities across the U.S. that are making a difference when it comes to childhood obesity.
Bill Roach, the 2011-2012 Chairman of the American Heart Association and Chair of Voices for Healthy Kids Strategic Advisory Committee, says they want to spotlight West Virginia.
“We’re trying to learn from them, the comprehensive strategies that have been successful and replicating those across the country,” said Roach.
Dr. Jeffrey says there’s no one program in West Virginia that has brought about the big change but rather a series of health policies and programs that are working together.
“I think there’s been a lot of statewide effort to really make an impact in our children,” stressed Jeffrey.
From the state’s 2007 Healthy Lifestyles Act to the 2011 West Virginia Physical Activity Plan, Jeffrey said it’s a team effort.
“This is all of our hard work paying off and this is no time to let up,” she explained. “So it is really time to get serious so that we can make sure this decline continues.”
Jeffrey hopes the changes will drastically reduce the number of morbidly obese children in West Virginia like the ones she’s seen .
“I was seeing 100-lb 2-year-olds that already had sleep apnea. I was treating type-2 diabetes that I didn’t even learn about, in my medical training. It’s like having to go back to school to learn how to take care of adult diseases that had infiltrated our kids.”
Four states and five cities were honored at Tuesday’s event.