Interesting story in the AJC today on the counties in the U.S. with the greatest obesity problems. It will be no surprise to anyone who has ever attended a county fair in rural areas to learn that the South tops the list.
The story states:
ATLANTA — The first county-by-county survey of obesity reflects past studies that show the rate of obesity is highest in the Southeast and Appalachia. High rates of obesity and diabetes were reported in more than 80 percent of counties in the Appalachian region that includes Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, according to the new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The same problem was seen in about 75 percent of counties in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina.
I know that schools are called upon to solve all of society’s problems, but I think obesity is becoming such a large problem – excuse the unintended pun – that it can’t be ignored.
I think schools ought to partner with recreation and active living programs to launch elementary school running programs and fitness camps. My 10-year-old daughter attends a terrific track program after school called Girls on the Run, which takes place at a local public school but charges a fee. I would love to see programs like that for all kids based at every school.
Again, I don’t think we should ask school staffs to embrace this challenge but we certainly ought to use school facilities. I know there are costs, but it will be considerably less expensive to prevent childhood obesity than to pay the associated health bills later.
There is a link between obesity and lack of education, which is likely why the South and Appalachia always lead the lists. Educated people stay in better shape.
Perhaps, as we improve our schools we’ll see healthier lifestyles.