Topeka Legislators are trying to sound the alarm about the health problems associated with obesity, especially among some minority populations.
“This can be stopped,” said state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence. “Part of this is education, letting people know more about it.”
The Legislature is considering House Resolution 6017, which recognizes the prevalence of obesity in the African-American, Hispanic and American Indian communities, and its impact on heart disease and diabetes.
The resolution says there needs to be increased advocacy and access to treatment options for obesity, including the promotion of physical activity and healthy diet.
In Kansas, 35 percent of Hispanics and 44 percent of African-Americans were obese, compared with 27 percent of whites, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
The trends are evident early on with 11 percent of white children under 5 being overweight, compared with 16 percent of Hispanic, and 18 percent of American Indian children.
African-American and Hispanic parents are much more likely to feed children solid foods before the age of 4 months, allow them to drink sugar-sweetened beverages, and watch television more, according to a recent study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation.
“These are all risk factors that contribute to overweight and obesity in children,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, state health officer and director of the division of health at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
“Addressing the health crisis in disparate populations in Kansas is critical,” he said. He said encouraging healthy eating and daily physical activity will help slow the increase in obesity.