Child obesity/overweight rates have been steadily climbing for the last thirty years nationwide. Today, one in three children is overweight or obese, a percentage that has doubled since 1990 and quadrupled for adolescents. Weight impacts risk for heart disease, type 2 Diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, and psychological stress. Despite a slight decline in obesity rates among 2-4 year olds enrolled in WIC from 2010-2014, the state of Missouri is still among the lowest performers in childhood obesity rates.
Why is MCHC getting involved in driving down the rates of obesity among children in Kansas City? Family health is a continuum that does not end with the birth of a child. Missouri rates for overweight and obesity among low-income children is 27%. These children often live in food deserts, do not have adequate infrastructure to play outside safely at home, and cannot afford nutrient-dense, fresh food. The quality of a child’s food and access to physical activity are delivered and determined by the early child care providers during most of the child’s waking hours for the majority of a given week.
I am pleased to announce that MCHC has received a Health Forward Foundation Healthy Communities grant to begin reversing these trends by building community support to enact a city ordinance that establishes evidence-based strategies around healthy food, physical activity, and reduced screen time for children at our early care facilities. This project, titled Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds will bring together community partners, parents, and providers to establish a more level playing field when it comes to developing good health habits for all of our children.
The Kansas City Council has made the health of this community a priority for several years. Passage of prevention policies such as this initiative are so important to improving the overall health of Kansas City’s youngest, and bending the curve on health outcomes tied to place.
Tracy Russell
Executive Director
Mother & Child Health Coalition
trussell@mchc.net