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Florida Ranked Fourth in the Country for Childhood Obesity

11:47 AM, Sep 17, 2018


Antoniette Meyer, Michael Adam Mora

Childhood obesity has been a lasting problem in the United States and it only seems to be getting worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s.

Right now, Florida is ranked FOURTH in the US for childhood obesity – not exactly a top ten list we’d like to be on.

Florida Ranked 4th in the Country for Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is measured using the body mass index. The body mass index can be calculated by dividing the person's weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters. A child is considered obese if his or her body mass index is at or above the 95th percentile for children and teens that are both the same sex and age.

A 2018 study, conducted by , found that 36.6% of children in Florida ages 10 to 17 were obese in 2016. Children between the ages of 2 to 4 who are on the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in Florida obesity has decreased.

"No matter what age range, it’s important for parents to role model behavior," Noel Konken said, who's a Clinical Dietitian with Lee Health." When you're talking to your children in a positive way about the importance of activity and eating your fruits and vegetables, actions speak louder than words. So the parents also adapting those behaviors and having a child see their parents do those healthy behaviors, they're more likely to follow a trend.”

Konken recommends these tips for getting children to eat more veggies:

  1. Eat more vegetables in front of your kids.
  2. Get your kids involved in cooking the meal to help them be excited to eat it.
  3. The ‘One Bit Rule.’ If a kid doesn’t want to finish their vegetables make them at least have one bite because some kids can take 8-10 tries of a specific food before they start to realize it is an acceptable flavor for their taste buds.
  4. Get creative. Calling vegetables ‘little trees or making them into shapes can make food more fun

Don't forget to keep your kids active and avoid too much sedentary time. The CDC recommends that you limit kids television, play video games or get on the internet to no more than two hours per day.

Lee Health prepares parents with creative guidelines. The 5-2-1-0 rule as a simple guideline for parents. The rule means a child should be having 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. A maximum of 2 hours of screen time and 1 hour of physical activity. The 0 is for no sugar-sweetened beverages.

You can learn more about childhood obesity by visiting