Kentucky Tops U.S. In Obesity Among High Schoolers, Report Says
Kentucky had the highest percentage of obese high school students in the U.S. in 2013, according to a report released this week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundationand nonprofit group Trust for Americans Health.The State of Obesity report said 18 percent of Kentucky high school students were obese. That places Kentucky just one spot behind the all-time highest high school obesity rate, which was in Mississippi (18.3) in 2009.Nationwide, 13 percent of U.S. high schoolers are obese, according to the report.Kentucky's obesity rate among high school students for 2013, at 18 percent, is a boost from 16.5 percent in 2011—which at the time was third highest in the U.S.. Erica Labar, a pediatrician with University of Louisville Physicians, said the rise in childhood and teenage obesity is the result of a number of factors—most notably a lack of physical activity.“That, combined with an overabundance of high calorie but poor nutrition quality foods, has really contributed to the problem,” she said.
Labar said obesity plagues all populations in Kentuckians but is something she believes can be improved.“When people start to realize and see these problems, my hope is that the rate of obesity will start to decline,” she said.
Kentucky had nearly 200,000 public high school students in 2013, according to the Kentucky Department of Education. That means Kentucky had about 36,000 obese high school students—more than the entire high-school enrollment of Jefferson County Public Schools.The definition of an obese child or adolescent is a person between ages 2 to 19 who has a Body Mass Index at or above the 95th percentile for those of the same age and sex, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For an example, a 16-year-old boy who stands 5-foot-7 and weighs 200 pounds would have a Body Mass Index of 31.3, putting him in the 98th percentile. He would be, by definition, obese.Body Mass Index, or BMI, can be calculated here. The State of Obesity report incorporated data from the 2013 Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which was conducted by the Kentucky Department of Education.Here are some facts on Kentucky high school students based on the survey results: