Archive for Monday, October 15, 2007

Health officials urge action on obesity

State lawmakers under pressure to curb epidemic in children

October 15, 2007


Childhood obesity a BIG problem

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the U.S. and Douglas County is doing it's part to help. Today kicks off the 'Get Moving' program in area elementary schools. Enlarge video

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— Obesity among children has become an epidemic, officials said Monday, and should be addressed where they spend much of their time - in school.

"Physical inactivity is killing our children," said Kim Morrissey, a physical education teacher at a Wichita elementary school.

A parade of health officials and instructors urged the Legislative Educational Planning Committee to craft a package of reforms to increase physical education and nutrition instruction.

The panel said it would consider the suggestions when it makes a recommendation to the 2008 Legislature.

Childhood obesity "is a problem that is literally getting out of control," said state health officer Dr. Howard Rodenberg.

Nearly a quarter of high school students and nearly one third of elementary school students are overweight, he said. Annual health care costs associated with obesity in Kansas are about $650 million.

State Rep. Pat Colloton, R-Leawood, and others suggested focusing on middle schools, where physical education is not required.

"At the middle school level, that is where the data shows that kids are really packing it on," she said.

Colloton has proposed $500,000 in middle school grants for professional development of physical education teachers and teaching materials.

Although health officials have sought legislation aimed at childhood obesity, lawmakers last session were not enthusiastic, citing concerns about increasing mandates and getting involved in parental decisions.

But Colloton believes there will be support for the grants.

"When an individual health problem reaches epidemic proportions, there is a responsibility for the state to act in areas where the individual cannot," Colloton said.

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence and a member of the Educational Planning Committee, agreed.

"I'm very much hoping that the Legislature does address fitness in our schools. I also have heard before that if you get physical activity then you do better at learning," Francisco said. "We really need to embrace that if we can."


Melanie Birge 10 years, 6 months ago

My son is over weight, I just took him to KU med yesterday, they put him on Lipitor. No one else in the house has any weight issues nor do I let him eat Hamburgers and fries. I am sad that he need a Cholesterol medication at 13. I cook well fruit and veggies in the home. I wonder how much genetics play a roll.

Nikki May 10 years, 6 months ago

Cut back on foodstamps? That is NOT the issue. People are probably not eating too much, just not the RIGHT stuff.

toefungus 10 years, 6 months ago

I just can't seem to get my arms around this issue.

KsTwister 10 years, 6 months ago

Ah yes, once again history repeats itself .. .. . in its failures. I am curious how many remembers the 1975 rendition of the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness in school?

sourpuss 10 years, 6 months ago

Feed your kids fruits, veg, take away their computers, tvs, and video games, and boot them out of the house so they can run around. I wasn't allowed to sit around the house all of the time, and I was given healthy portions and options. It isn't that hard people.

storm 10 years, 6 months ago

Not so fast. If Gen XL die from obesity related diseases and they are dying earlier than Baby Boomers, then there should be enough social security money after 2041 - the approximate year that social security allegedly runs dry. By now, we all know foods are laden with chemicals and hormones and should not be choosing those franken-foods. But if we really want to do something, slap child abuse on the parents because an obese child is actually a direct result of child neglect.

jonas 10 years, 6 months ago

Captain-Obvious: So, is that the solution to the question on your posting personality? You just miss being able to bully kids on the playground about being fat and/or stupid? It seems to fit.

juscin3 10 years, 6 months ago

lol right, I thought spywell was on a rampage.... I don't give my kids the extra money to buy out of the vending they eat the school lunches...

deec 10 years, 6 months ago

Limbaugh, Cheney, Rumsfeld. They're fat, so they must be liberals? What about all them Nascar folk who vote republican?

just_another_ninja 10 years, 6 months ago

It's all about the parents.

Parents, step up to the plate. Before you know it, they're gone.

alm77 10 years, 6 months ago

Weren't we just fighting anorexia and bullemia last time I checked? Seems like its extremism we need to fight, not "fat" or "skinny".

Fatty_McButterpants 10 years, 6 months ago

I might as well throw in my two cents...

The trend in parenting these days is to worry constantly about your child's self-esteem. Parents take "parenting" classes, they read self-help books on "how to be a better parent," and they are constantly bombarded by the message that they need to constantly tell their child that they are "special" and that there's nothing wrong with them. I don't think that any parent worth their salt let's their kid become fat because they want to watch him or her waddle around. I think that kid's become fat because parents do not want to tell their children "no" because they are afraid it will hurt their fragile self-esteem. Plus, I remember reading a study where most parents, seriously, could not tell (or wouldn't believe, you choose) that their child was/is a Fatty McButterpants!

Here's the thing. If your kid is packin' on the pounds - do something about it! Don't just sit and think about it. In all likelihood, YOU could probably stand to lose a few yourself. Start running with your child. Or rollerblading. Or bikeriding, swimming, hiking or walking. Join a Parks & Rec program to get your big butt's moving. Join a gym together.

Stop serving packaged dinners. Those things are absolutely LOADED with preservatives, fat, cholesterol, STARCH, etc. Avoid pastas that aren't made out of whole wheat and only eat those sparingly. Buy fruits & vegetables that don't come in a bag or can. Don't eat white rice. Don't eat white bread. Those are just empty calories since all the nutrients have been removed.

If you go out to eat frequently - order a salad. If you are one of those people that has to have meat with almost every meal, ask for a grilled chicken breast to go with your salad. Ditch the BBQ Bacon cheeseburgers and Coke. Try drinking tea (not the crap that's sweetened worse than soda - you know what I'm talking about), or water with lemon. When I was a waiter I couldn't tell you how many times I had some orca tell me they wanted a diet coke b/c they were on a diet, then proceed to order the aforementioned BBQ Bacon cheeseburger with fries. Come on, the only person you're kidding is yourself. Diets usually don't work because they are morons, not because the diet is flawed.

[stepping down off soapbox] Alright, carry on.

mom_of_three 10 years, 6 months ago

I have never read such posts from people who have no clue! Yes, this gets me angry. My sister was overweight from a young age, but my dad and step mom were not. (so there goes that reasoning.) She was never a skinny baby or skinny kid. My step mom limited her to sweets, and made her exercise. (there goes another theory, people) My sister would lose a few pounds, but that was it. There wasn't a computer in the house, or video games. (there goes that reason, too) She couldn't keep it off. She saw doctors regularly. She was aware of it, and she was teased about it in grade school. (that didn't help her either) In high school, she participated in track and other activities. She was probably a size 16 or so in high school, but still considered obese. She took Fen-phen, and lost a lot of weight for her wedding, but was never a stick.
Two babies later, and also due to her epilepsy medicine, she is a large woman. but she is an active successful person.

Bobbi Walls 10 years, 6 months ago

My child is 9 and weighs 106 pounds. She is also 4'7". However, her issues with weight stem from a medical problem she has as a toddler. I also have a 2 year old, that weighs 32 pounds and is really short, so it is not about parents feeding their kids crap necessarily, it is also about my oldest is tall like her dad, yet heavier than most. My youngest is short like me, and not as heavy like her sister and they eat the same things..

marionlibrarian 10 years, 6 months ago

This is a tough issue--I am trying to lose a bunch of weight myself. Luckily, I have the best exercise coach in the whole world!

mom_of_three 10 years, 6 months ago

There are so many other factors to why kids are overweight, but everyone is so quick to blame the parents.

Bobbi Walls 10 years, 6 months ago

I want to add to my previous comment, that both of my kids are very active... dance, gymnastics, riding bikes, playing outside, etc. We don't buy a lot of junk food, and they drink water and 2% milk most of the time. I too was bigger in school, but I was also a cheerleader, played basketball, volleyball, and ran track. I was not skinny and I am still not, but I am still very active and according to my doctor rather healthy as are my kids.

Bubbles 10 years, 6 months ago

Whats wrong with a fat kid?

Big deal, they may grow up fat and die a couple of years younger than normal. It's their body, can't they do with it what they want?

Alia Ahmed 10 years, 6 months ago

ninja writes "It's all about the parents. Parents, step up to the plate. Before you know it, they're gone."

That's funny. Maybe they should step away the plate instead. I'm oveweight and don't blame anyone but myself, but that was funny about stepping up to the plate! I know it is serious business and the costs of obesity are tremendous financially, healthwise and in terms of ego but I enjoyed the chuckle this morning.

imastinker 10 years, 6 months ago

Just get rid of the television!

It's the best thing we ever did.

just_another_ninja 10 years, 6 months ago

Bubbles - if only it were that easy. (see Bowhunter99's post above)

Logan72 - your laugh has spread its way to me. I had not thought of my post that way. Awesome!

Bubbles 10 years, 6 months ago


Hillary said that she is going to pay for our healthcare.

We will all be coverd once she is elected!

deskboy04 10 years, 6 months ago

I am going out and eat a Big Mac and Large Fries...why, because I can!

badger 10 years, 6 months ago

mom_of_three said:

"There are so many other factors to why kids are overweight, but everyone is so quick to blame the parents."

That's because parents are primarily responsible when it comes to the decisions made for a child's health. I doubt that every obese person I see has a thyroid or glandular or genetic problem. That means that some folks are not watching what their kids eat, ensuring that their kids get active, and teaching their children about health and nutrition. Is it the school's responsibility to teach children how to manage their health and diets? I don't think so. It's a parent's responsibility to ensure that their kids are as healthy as they can be. This means promoting healthy food and an active lifestyle, and getting the kid to a doctor to rule out health issues if a kid with a healthy lifestyle is 40 lbs overweight at age 10.

It infuriates me to go out to eat and overhear a parent discussing ordering a salad because "I'm watching what I eat," and then look over and see the already-heavyset kid's dunking his chicken nuggets into his macaroni and cheese and washing it down with a root beer. Minding diet is good enough for Mom or Dad to spend fifteen bucks on a salmon salad with whole-grain rolls, but too complicated for kiddo to be told no, he has to have a vegetable and can't have a meal that's mostly empty calories. A woman actually said, "Well, he screams if I don't let him have a hot dog and fries at every meal, and I can't stand to see him upset." Great, lady, you've taught your kid the fine art of emotional blackmail at age six. You're bigger than he is and you control the TV and the toy supply. Refusing to eat what my mother put in front of me meant I was hungry until breakfast, and you can bet that's a lesson I didn't need many repetitions of. And once I'd learned I wouldn't get anything else, my mom did take note of things I would rather go hungry than eat, and never served two of them in the same meal.

Mom_of_three, if it's not your responsibility to mind your minor children's health, whose is it? I'm sure not ready to cede parental rights to government on that. It's not just about diet and exercise; it's about realizing, "Hey, the fact that my five-year-old weighs a hundred pounds is probably a problem, and I should do something about it. Cause, you know, I'm his parent and all."

Now, since many parents can't or won't effectively manage their children's health, we have a crisis with obesity that will affect the cost of insurance and how tax dollars are spent. Schools can stop contributing to the problem by changing from fatty, starchy processed food lunch to healthier foods, and by reincorporating more active time during the school day, and teaching the basics of nutrition, but that's really as far as government should be interfering in managing a child's health.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years, 6 months ago

Promote fitness? Wow. What a crazy notion! How could anybody be for that? Promote abuse and hatred! It's the Amerdecan way!

As long as making people fat, lazy (tube o' entertainment) AND/or skinny (diet!) carries such a massive corporate weight into our lives, most will remain fat, lazy and/or skinny. I plan on it, anyway!~)

Now...Let's continue with libertarians slathering on to create more progressives and progressives slathering on to create more libertarians!~)

Confrontation 10 years, 6 months ago

I love how people make it sound as simple as "feed them more veggies and fruit." Only an idiot who never shops for him/herself would make it so simple. Have you seen the cost of fruits and veggies? Not every poor family is loading their kids up on McD's and donuts. I know many poor families who are lucky to afford 75% lean hamburger. These families can't afford to buy skinless, boneless chicken breasts. I'd love to see more information for families in regards to portion control and more exercise. Unless you're donating fruits, veggies, and lean meat to the foodbanks, then these people can't afford them. I know some idiots will respond with, "take away their cigarettes and booze, then they'll be able to afford them." Not every poor family has addictions and habits.

gogoplata 10 years, 6 months ago

$500,000 of wasted money. I wonder where they get this money?

badger 10 years, 6 months ago

Actually, confrontation, when I donate to food banks, I do donate healthy food, but thanks for the reminder.

'Veggies are too expensive' is not exactly true. If you buy in season, fruits and veggies are pretty cheap. A 10-lb bag of potatoes is about the same cost as a 2-lb bag of tater tots, but most families with kids will choose the tater tots. Bananas and apples are routinely less than 50 cents a pound, and what about buying a pound of fresh peaches in season instead of a quart of ice cream, and eating the peaches sliced with a little cinnamon on top for dessert? Turnips are an excellent cheap root crop, which can be boiled, sauteed, whipped, put in stew, or slow-roasted with a cheap cut of beef for tasty pot roast. Kale, cabbage, mustard greens and collard greens are all very inexpensive and can be quite good when properly cooked.

Even frozen or canned fruits and veggies are better than nothing. When I was super-poor in college, I'd get the big industrial-sized bags of frozen mixed veggies and throw a couple of handfuls into my ramen noodle, my scrambled eggs, or my beans and rice. It can be done, but too many people reach for the pre-packaged processed foods instead..

adriennerm 10 years, 6 months ago

Foodstamps isn't the problem. There are multipul problems. I fell into one food. I am a single mother. I work from 7:30a until 4:30a in Overland Park. Therefore I am gone from 6:30a until 5:15ish. There are times when I get home I don't want to cook. Therefore we go to Subyway, Mr Goodcents, Chinese buffet. I thought that if we avoided McDonalds, Burger King..etc we were eating healthy fast food. I didn't consider the correct servings of fruit and veggies. Or the quality time cooking together in the kitchen.

Now I limit fast food to once or twice a month. However my daughter really doesn't ask for it. We made our first homemade pizza together....didn't turn out well, but it was fun.

My advice to the parents...make cooking a family event. Heck ask your children to cook. My daughter "12" loves to cook. She made me breakfast...yes she burned the heck out the bacon, but that moment will be forever with me....I never remember my trips to McDonalds

kansas778 10 years, 6 months ago

Goodness people! They simply want to make PE mandatory, what is the big deal with that?!

adriennerm 10 years, 6 months ago

Just to add another things.....veggies aren't expensive. I buy my frozen veggies from Checkers or Aldi's. I can buy a bag of broccoli for $.99. Now those aren't broccoli florets, it's the chopped kind. However it's affordable and tasty. As far as meat....I can't afford that. We eat chicken thighs a lot. I can't afford boneless breasts. Every blue moon I can get 90/10 ground beef. However it's 73/27 most of the time.

imastinker 10 years, 6 months ago

Veggies are free if you grow them yourself in the back yard. Get the kids to help with the weeds and they aren't on the TV. This works for poor people too.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 6 months ago

Oh, well, growing your own veggies will work sooo well for all those poor people living in the yard to plant anything in...

I still thinks it's mainly the lack of don't go outside and play much anymore, that I can see...of course, the parents are paranoid anymore about stranger danger and all that stuff...

We used to be outdoors all the time running and playing when I was a kid...we had TV, but of course no video games or anything like that...and we didn't go out to eat at restaurants very much...that was for rich people...

LogicMan 10 years, 6 months ago

"the parents stay home at night and cook!"

If it went away, bring back "Home Economics" in K-12, and teach kids how to prepare healthy meals for themselves and their families?

imastinker 10 years, 6 months ago

Why not teach kids how to think in school, and prepare them to be sucessful in life, like teaching reading, writing, math, english, science.

I understand theere's a negative correlation between income and obesity. Maybe it's all the crap like this program that schools try to teach that takes away from the good stuff instead, making kids stupider and therefore more fat?

Godot 10 years, 6 months ago

Ban commericals for prepackaged food of all kinds; ban commercials for soft drinks, ban commercials for fast food restaurants, ban commercials for beer.

There. That ought to solve the fat problem; it will kill our economy, and no one will be able to afford to eat.

countrygirl 10 years, 6 months ago

OTTR--did you have a fat girl shoot you down at some point? You sure are hung up on blaming females for the kids being over weight. Dad can take the kid outside and throw a football around or something else sports like to help the kids get some excercise. My son gets told to turn off the TV and go play outside all the time--just like my mom did us.

marionlibrarian 10 years, 6 months ago

Hey Badger,

"Bananas and apples are routinely less than 50 cents a pound"

Where do you buy apples for less than 50 cents a pound? That is a fabulous deal!


deskboy04 10 years, 6 months ago

How about a Tacoburger at Taco John's? They are good, and good for you.

imastinker 10 years, 6 months ago

agnostick, that whole post is full of crap. Who doesn't have a shovel?

denak 10 years, 6 months ago

I think the reasons for people being obese are complex. There are genetic, economic, emotional/psychological and enviromental aspects to it all.

In my family, my mom and dad and myself are overweight. My brother is slim. Sister is slim. She has one overweight boy and one slender girl. Normal size husband. My son is about 10lbs overweight. I have had foster kids who were overweight/obese when they got here. And overweight/obese when they left. I have had normal weight kids when they got here and normal weight when they left.

Just because a person is skinny or normal weight doesn't mean they are neccessarily healthier than someone who is overweight. You have to look at their other habits and blood work to make that determination. There are normal weighted people with heart disease, diabetes, and cholestrol issues.

As for children, it would be nice if the local rec. centers would let teenagers younger than 16 go in and lift weights. My 15 year old son wants to lift weights but he can't go to Holcomb or the East Lawrence Center to lift weights until he is 16. I realize there are probably liability issues in play, but I think if a child 13 and up wants to lift weights they should be allowed to considering the many advantages to lifting weights.

Also, I think if community leaders are really serious about this issue, instead of taxing our schools to do more, they should develop more places for young people to go to. I have a friend who works at the McDonalds by the theatre and every Friday the kids swarm the theatre and McDonalds because that is the only thing to do in this town. So, they go and load up on theatre popcorn and then go get a Big Mac. Maybe if we had a rollar rink they could do that instead.

If we want our kids to be more active, we should make this a more kid friendly place.


badger 10 years, 6 months ago


I've seen apples on special for 39 cents a pound several times in the last year at the Randall's at MoPac and William Cannon. It's about two miles from my house. There was some 'you have to buy ten dollars in groceries' bit, but if you're doing your weekly grocery shopping (because you checked out this week's circular you got in the mail and you're planning your menu around the sales), you will be spending more than ten dollars, and you can get the special on apples. Sometimes it's nectarines for 59 cents a pound, sometimes it's pomegranates four for a dollar. Just whatever's in season and abundant.

And don't knock the farmer's market, either, folks. It's not actually that expensive if you're not buying the heirloom tomatoes and fancy bread (though I do miss those little pecan pies...). Also, try the Community Supported Agriculture programs. There's a couple in and around Lawrence, and it looks like a few in Kansas City. You can get a grocery bag full of fresh seasonal veggies and sometimes eggs delivered to your home for less than ten bucks if you know where to look.

And imastinker, I didn't own a shovel till I moved here and into my SO's house. Apartment dwellers don't need them. We dig in our container gardens with big spoons and then wash the spoons.

jfcm77 10 years, 6 months ago

Badger, do you live in Austin, Texas?

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