Archive for Monday, May 17, 2010

Study says obesity a growing problem among girls in Kansas

May 17, 2010, 7:51 a.m. Updated May 17, 2010, 2:09 p.m.


— Nobody knows why for sure, but girls in Kansas have been gaining weight at an alarming rate.

From 2003 to 2007, the percentage of Kansas girls 10 to 17 years old who were obese nearly doubled, a new federal study shows.

The 91.4 percent increase in the obesity rate was the greatest experienced by any state and was too large to be considered a statistical fluke, the study’s lead researcher said.

“I think that it is definitely real,” said Gopal Singh, an epidemiologist with the Health Resources and Services Administration. “But why, that is quite puzzling.”

Indeed, the jump is a head-scratcher for experts who work with overweight kids in Kansas. Some were skeptical about the numbers.

Singh’s study, published this month in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, used data from telephone surveys that asked tens of thousands of parents and guardians about the health of their children. More than 40,000 children from the 2003 and the 2007 survey were included in the study.

Nationwide, the researchers found statistically significant weight gain among girls. The prevalence of overweight among girls increased 9.4 percent and the prevalence of obesity by 17.6 percent. Changes among boys were smaller and not considered significant.

Among states, only Arizona, with a 90.9 percent increase in obesity among girls, approached Kansas.

But some experts said they weren’t seeing the same kind of numbers.

“Our own data wouldn’t support any sudden feeding frenzy among Kansas girls,” said Ann Davis, a University of Kansas Hospital psychologist who runs weight reduction programs for children at the hospital and in rural elementary schools.

But Davis has noticed that Kansas parents seem more willing now to acknowledge that their children have a weight problem, something particularly uncomfortable to do when the child is a girl.

In years past, Davis would be able to recruit only a few families from a rural school to take part in her program. Now she’s overwhelmed by the dozens who want to sign up.

“I’ve seen a tremendous shift in that, that my child is overweight or obese and I need to take action,” she said.

That greater recognition of weight problems may make for more accurate reporting by parents who are surveyed about their children, Davis suggested.

It’s not that a lot more girls are tipping the scales in the Sunflower State than in the rest of the country. In Kansas, 16.3 percent of girls were obese in 2007, not significantly higher than the national rate of 13.5 percent, the study found.

But in 2003, just 8.5 percent of Kansas girls were obese. The national rate that year was 11.5 percent.

The obesity rate for Kansas boys didn’t change significantly and at 16.2 percent in 2007 was similar to the national rate of 19.2 percent.

Obesity among Missouri boys and girls also held fairly steady, with rates comparable to the national numbers, according to the study.

“I don’t know any factor that would have girls gaining more weight than boys in the state,” said Mark Thompson, director of the Kansas Coordinated School Health Program, which works with school districts to develop nutrition and physical activity programs.

Thompson cited surveys of Kansas high school students that found overweight and obesity levels had remained fairly constant from 2005 through 2009.

Thompson said there was “a possibility there is a fluke” in Singh’s data.

“It’s not because of a statistical anomaly,” Singh countered.

Most of the increase in obesity in Kansas may have been among girls who were below high school age, he said.

About one in three children in the United States is now considered overweight or obese, which is raising concerns about their future health and even their longevity. Many children already are developing diabetes or showing early signs of heart disease that typically are found in adults.

First lady Michelle Obama recently initiated the “Let’s Move” campaign against childhood obesity. A government report last week offered 70 recommendations, including healthier food at schools and getting children to exercise more, to combat weight gain.

People who are obese are well above normal weight and have large amounts of body fat. Obesity is usually measured by a calculation based on height and weight called the body mass index, or BMI.

For example, a 12-year-old girl who is 5 feet tall would be considered to be at a healthy weight at 110 pounds and obese at 130 pounds.

Singh’s study found wide variations in obesity rates among states, even after accounting for ethnic and economic differences.

Kids in Kansas, for example, were twice as likely to be obese as kids in Oregon, which had the lowest obesity rate.

Differences in the availability of parks and playgrounds and in state policies promoting healthy weight among children may play a role, Singh said.

State policies could be a factor in Kansas, said Sarah Hampl, a pediatrician who directs weight management services at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

She pointed to a 2009 report by the Trust for America’s Health that noted which states had nutrition standards for foods available to children at school or policies for measuring students’ BMIs.

“Notably, Kansas was one of the only states in the nation that doesn’t have this kind of legislation,” Hampl said.


ontheroadfitness 7 years, 11 months ago

I wonder what is causing the increase for girls since boys have remained relatively unchanged. hmmmmmm

mk9992 7 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

1983Hawk 7 years, 11 months ago

Cell phones. A lot fewer of them out for sports than 7 years ago. All they want to do is text friends and surf Facebook.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 11 months ago

Eat less; move more....the world's shortest diet book. Gonna see lots of people missing fingers and toes in a generation or two as this slow-motion crisis unfolds. Once everything is wireless and build into the body, maybe the next generation's kids will go outside again since they can surf and FaceBook while they walk or ride their bikes.

ontheroadfitness 7 years, 11 months ago

mk9992... not exactly a very helpful comment. It's apparent that something is going on and we are failing our children when it comes to fitness and nutrition. Instead of making rude comments, we should all do our part in figuring out the solutions.

spiff 7 years, 11 months ago

Look at this awesome data!

Kansas Girls: % Obesity Rate. 91.4% Increase Kansas Boys: 16.2% Obesity Rate.
% Increase (not significant = 0?) National Girls: % Obesity Rate.
% Increase National Boys: 19.2% Obesity Rate. % Increase Arizona Girls:
% Obesity Rate. 90.9% Increase

Classic, AP. Classic.

50YearResident 7 years, 11 months ago

I would think this statement alone would change the outcome of this poll. "Nobody wants to date a fat girl"

gr 7 years, 11 months ago

spiff, that's what I was trying to figure out. Except I had to go back and re-read it as misread it as comparing 17% to 16.2% of girls to boys. Now I see that there is no data to make any comparisons with so the whole article is rather meaningless. Maybe obese girls are a small portion of the boys and they were afraid no one would think it relevant. Or maybe the obese girls are a much larger portion than the boys and they didn't really want to say it. Or, maybe they were just trying to say something about obesity, but didn't know exactly what they wanted to say?

gr 7 years, 11 months ago

Not only is obesity a growing problem, it's also a big problem.
And an enlarging one.

gr 7 years, 11 months ago

And don't forget an encompassing one.

On the road, the solution is to stop selling junk food in the school's vending machines and cafeterias. The solution is to tell them about inputs and outputs and how if they are not balanced, there is going to be increase or decrease. The solution is to tell them don't do what their parents are doing if they don't want to look like them. The solution is to tell them that acting on their desires is not always beneficial. But then, there is another segment which contradicts that message.

geekyhost 7 years, 11 months ago

The junk food issue is a real problem. We send our kids with packed lunches because the hot food offering isn't healthy, and when we visit, their classmates are either eating the hot meal or packing Lunchables and other totally unhealthy foods. If this is what they learn about eating as kids, it's really not a wonder that they become obese.

But feeding kids hot food that was actual food and not chicken nuggets and fries would be expensive. And as much whining as everyone did about the sales tax increase, I doubt it's a plan that would go over well.

kimmydarling 7 years, 11 months ago

I have a malfunctioning hypothalamus, do I get your approval to be fat AND have my boyfriend be ok with it?

whats_going_on 7 years, 11 months ago

are you using that as an excuse?....because I definitely do also, and I definitely am not overweight.

whats_going_on 7 years, 11 months ago

We're not talking about just being overweight, and we're not asking girls to be super model thin either.

We are talking about obesity...overweight people can actually be healthy...there is absolutely NOTHING healthy about being obese. Obesity is the cause of several diseases, including the top killers of humans (heart disease, cancer, diabetes). Obesity causes everyone else to pay more in healthcare costs and there are several psychological problems associated with it which are especially detrimental to children.

So yes, it is other people's business.

Matt Torres 7 years, 11 months ago

What are you talking about? This isn't about girls being skinny, this is about the health of kids.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 11 months ago

This story complete ignores that fat bottomed girls make this rockin world go round.

And now I want to ride my bicylce, I want to ride my bike.

somedude20 7 years, 11 months ago

fat girls are easier to catch but then again you don't see too many of em being chased.

There are a few rules of life to live by: 1. don't get a haircut from a bald person 2. don't trust someone with two first names 3.don't take another man's frech fries 4. don't spit into the wind. 5. don't date a women whos stomach sticks out further than her breasts 6. don't mess around with Jim

estespark 7 years, 11 months ago

  1. don't play cards with a guy whose first name is a city (e.g. Cleveland, Dallas, etc)

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 11 months ago

Is this headline competing for the lamest pun award?

Larry Bauerle Jr. 7 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps the data might say something about parents thoughts concerning daughters versus sons. Maybe parents are quicker to label their daughters as obese. Don't know, just wondering.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 11 months ago

Maybe it's time for families to set up an exercise room in the home or garage as a point of emphasis saying exercise is good. Don't focus on one family member. ALL of us need exercise.

A suggestion could go with one each of:

  1. A treadmill
  2. workout bench that which is NOT just for males
  3. Crossover Elliptical Trainer
  4. Bicycles
  5. Use sidewalks. Jogging can be hard on knees and other joints.

  6. All of the above work different parts/muscles.

POWER WALKING everywhere you go. Park the car a good distance from a destination such as a grocery store,shopping anywhere or place of employment. Newsweek a few years back provided this thinking after interviewing a man who was quite active. Marriage and family demands cut into his workout schedule. In addition to parking a distance away from wherever he would make it a point to use stairs instead of the elevators or escalators.

Need to take kids somewhere? Park the car and kill time by walking downtown,around downtown, walk through neighborhoods....... walk around anywhere.

Walking is important IF we want to be able to walk as senior citizens. Stomach muscles are very important to walking. Walking helps those important stomach muscles.

The only items we do not have is the treadmill and sidewalks( streets, cemeteries and country roads work too!)

Now it's time to bike date,walk date,elliptical date and going for walks after wining and dining.....

pagan_idolator 7 years, 11 months ago

Some do. I don't think most men expect their women to be super model thin. However, obesity is dangerous. Pleasingly plump or curvy - not so much.

Clark Coan 7 years, 11 months ago

Clearly, it's due to the fact that parents now are willing to admit their daughters are overweight. the same happened a few years ago for gay couples in Kansas. They finally admitted to census takers that they are gay couples.

whats_going_on 7 years, 11 months ago

McDonald's itself is not the killer. (Although, I wouldn't mind if they were...I hate that business with a passion and I'd like to see their corporation rot in hell) The consumption of McDonalds and other similar foods, and lack of activity, is the killer. It's a two way street...if people didn't buy in to the marketing and didn't buy the garbage, it wouldn't be a problem.

pagan_idolator 7 years, 11 months ago

yes. lets blame it on republicans. Come on now, its a combo of fast food, highly processed food - that is a mainstay of most American diets, and lack of exercise. When I was a kid after breakfast we were tossed out the door. We were not allowed to sit around a watch tv all day. I was fortunate enough to be raised on a farm with plenty of fresh food and very little of our food coming from a grocery store. As an adult I partook a little too much of crappy foods. I am paying for it now but I am happy that I can blame the republicans for my bad choices. Those insidious bas#%*@s!!!

Katara 7 years, 11 months ago

"Obesity is usually measured by a calculation based on height and weight called the body mass index, or BMI."

This is not a good standard to use for obesity or, at least, it should be used in combination with other tools to measure obesity (such as looking at % of actual body fat). More girls are participating in sports and use of BMI as the sole measuring tool puts healthy & fit girls into the obese category because muscle mass weighs more.

Another factor could be that girls are hitting puberty at a younger age now.

davidsmom 7 years, 11 months ago

There is a new, much more accurate measuring tool called the WtHR - Weight/Height Ratio which works for athletes, whereas the BMI is worthless. There is an article about the WtHR on

denak 7 years, 11 months ago

Putting aside the fact that obesity is a serious issue, I just can't help but think that they are jumping the gun just a bit.

They measured girls ages 10-17 right at the onset and during puberty. Girls that age gain weight anyway. Puberty is a long drawn out process. It take awhile for the body to even out. Just because a girl is overweight or even obese as a teenager, doesn't necessarily mean that she will be as an adult. Seriously, most women cringe when you bring up puberty. Their bodies embarrassed the heck out of them with all the lumps and bumps.

Secondly, not only do girls have to contend with their body going haywire they also have to deal with societal pressure that tell girls that playing sports or exercising is "unfeminine." Look at the gender gap in terms of high school sports. It would be nice if we could tell girls to just ignore all that but the reality is that most girls would rather sit on the bench cheering on the basketball players than actually be the basketball player. The old double standard still exists. If a guy plays a sport, he is a jock. If a girl does, she's a lesbian.

Just saying that obese girls are lazy, don't exercise or eats badly is not accurate. There is a whole lot more going on than just that.


whats_going_on 7 years, 11 months ago

Being overweight as a child or teenager increases your risk to become obese as an adult, for several reasons. You learn habits when you are young. If you don't learn how to take care of yourself at an early age, chances are it will be harder to learn them and start a healthy routine later. Children who are obese have a harder time at school and fitting in with peers, and their education can suffer. Psychological and developmental problems can lead to other problems, including less education and socio-economic wealth, an unfortunate but true "risk" factor for obesity. There is a powerful connection between mind and body...keeping both healthy is important. Exercise and activity increases children's brain power, mood and learning skills, which will not only help them fight obesity, but will help them in studies and social lives.

Puberty is when a girl's body starts producing estrogen...and that doesn't go away for quite a few years. Exercise and activity is VERY important during these years, as fat accumulates quickly, and keeping it off is easier than burning it off later.

I've never heard of anyone telling a girl that activity is "unfeminine." That isn't a valid excuse. Perhaps 30 years ago, but today things are much different. Activity doesn't have to mean football or baseball. There are very few sports, if any, that girls can't participate in. The only one I can think of is football...and I can't think of many girls dying to play it. What about volleyball? Most schools don't offer it to males...does that mean they are sexist? That old "double standard" does not still exist...unless you still live in your barn?

kernal 7 years, 11 months ago

  1. They drink soda pop like it is water
  2. Most of the food they eat is either fast food or processed
  3. Almost every food, other than plain beef,chicken, pork & fresh veggies and fruit, has corn syrup in it. That stuff is everywhere!
  4. Kids don't walk to school anymore

lovinglife 7 years, 11 months ago

This is really a huge problem and lack of being active is one of the reasons that this is occurring. If you are a girl that is reading this article and thinking this is you, you should really look into programs around Lawrence to get you moving. There is really so many great opportunities like: Citywide workout, Body Boutique is doing a teen fitness connection to work out for free the whole summer!, all kinds of 5Ks, bike trails! Just don't get down about it and get out there and stay busy! Good luck!

kimmydarling 7 years, 11 months ago

Why is it men with big guts can be distinguished, women with a big belly or fat all over is a "disgusting lazy slob"?

Feh, misogynists..

jaywalker 7 years, 11 months ago

gr already touched on the "obesity is a growing problem" issue. Thanks for the chuckle, I was right on that, too.
As to the subject matter........give me a break! Obesity is an issue EVERYwhere, particularly east of the Rockies, and it's prevalent with both sexes. And it's worse the farther out you get from the city, whatever city. I will also say, however, that a couple other posters, maybe denak and katara, were correct when they criticized the standards used to decide 'obesity.' Ten years ago I had a physician told me I 'qualified' as 'moderately obese'; I was (and still am! proudly!) 5'9" and 182 pounds. I've got an athletic build, for cryin' out loud! Moderately obese my tuckus! I think his weight chart had me around 165 for "healthy." I hadn't been that light since my sophomore year in high school.

whats_going_on 7 years, 11 months ago

Obese is a term for those with a body fat percentage over 32% (women) and 25% (men). You can technically be "overweight" according to weight/height charts but be perfectly healthy (even moreso than underweight people) because your body fat to muscle ratio is low.

Katara 7 years, 11 months ago

They are using only BMI as the standard to determine obesity here. It is not accurate.

"The body mass index (BMI), or Quetelet index, is a statistical measure which compares a person's weight and height. Though it does not actually measure the percentage of body fat, it is used to estimate a healthy body weight based on a person's height."

whats_going_on 7 years, 11 months ago

Honestly I think the pressure of being model-thin has done a 180. Now, not only are we confusing girls with pressure to be skinny, but we are also telling them that if they are obese, it's okay...even going as far as saying it's okay to be obese because society puts too much pressure on being skinny. It's "okay" to be obese because we should be happy with our bodies. Which is true... to an extent. When that extreme goes so far as creating a young child who is morbidly fat and has Type 2 Diabetes (something formally found in adults only), we have a completely different, and serious problem.

workinghard 7 years, 11 months ago

Gee, could it have anything to do with all the hormones they put in the meat which would affect girls more than boys? Studies suggest the hormones are affecting our girls. Do the girls in Kansas eat more meat than the other states? I know a young lady that had severe menstrual problems all the teenage years till she stopped eating meat. She lost a lot of weight too even though she ate a lot of rice.

workinghard 7 years, 11 months ago

Underlying medical problems could also cause problems. Had we not done complete blood work every year on my daughter since she was 10, we would not have known that at 14 her thyroid was failing. After two years on synthetic thyroid medicine, which didn't seem to be working well, we insisted the doctor prescribe natural Armour thyroid replacement medicine which worked like a charm. How many parents request total blood work at the yearly exam including hormone levels? Know what is going on in your child's body.

puddleglum 7 years, 11 months ago

I have noticed an increase in inter-racial couples, and many consist of fat or chunky white chix with african-american males. Aside from me, the rest of the attractive people have moved out to california. There are still some attractive people here in Kansas.

independant1 7 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for hanging around dude! we need all the 'pretty' we can get here.

puddleglum 7 years, 11 months ago

well, ya-i worked the catwalk for less than a year-but i'm not a good 'swisher'.

independant1 7 years, 11 months ago

Now we can move toward the solutions. Hello government, you listening? We have a problem here, need new laws.

The folks, especially the female young folks are getting too fat. It's now reached epidemic proportions. Lots of victims of capitalism and corporate amerika need government to rescue them.

close coca cola shut down twinkie factories shutter fast food joints

for starters

gr 7 years, 11 months ago

Don't forget the solution of increased taxes. That's usually promoted as solving most problems.

Maybe we could call it Fat and Trade. I'll sell you my fat and you can buy it.
And Al gets a commission.

jbiegs 7 years, 11 months ago

I believe fast food food joints, coca-cola, and twinkies have been around longer than the current obesity problem...maybe we should look at ourselves as the ones to blame. Kids, and adults for that matter, don't exercise regularly, don't walk anywhere anymore, and have quit doing any form of manual labor. Now we have dishwashers, riding lawn mowers, washing and drying machines, segways, etc. Maybe we should quit trying to place blame on others and look in the mirrow to figure out why we as a society have kept getting bigger. How many of these people that are classified as obese get out and exercise for at least 5 hours a week? I would bet less than 5%. I just call em as I see em.

greenworld 7 years, 11 months ago

Its not just girls, kids in general these days are being spoon fed and taught thats its okay to be lazy. I blame it on Obama and texting. They can sit around on their lazy azz and text for 8 hrs at a time and binge eat at 3 in the morning .

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