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Home News Our Kids Are Shrinking, and That’s a Good Thing
David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
575-649-0754 Mobile

Our Kids Are Shrinking, and That’s a Good Thing

It is a subject that continues to weigh heavily in New Mexico – literally: Obesity.

Obesity is a common, serious, and costly health problem, but the New Mexico Department of Health and its many health partners on the local and state level are working to control and prevent it.

Their most recent successes were announced by the Department just last week as childhood obesity rates among New Mexico 3rd grade students continue to decline. An obesity rate which peaked in 2010 is now down 20-percent just five years later as the numbers have fallen with each passing year.

The news got even better, however, because for the first time since the Department began collecting Body Mass Index (BMI) data in 2010, obesity prevalence rates in New Mexico kindergarten students is lower than it was in 2010. It means as kids are growing taller, their waistlines aren’t growing wider.

Obesity is serious. Research shows obese people are at higher risk for developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, some cancers, high blood pressure, stroke, and sleeping and breathing problems among other conditions. Some of these are the leading causes of death in the United States.

In addition to being at risk for developing some of these same health problems, children tend to also experience social and psychological effects like discrimination and low self-esteem. Moreover, obese children are more likely to become obese adults.

The decline in childhood obesity rates is credited in part to the Department of Health’s Healthy Kids New Mexico program. The statewide program was spun off of Healthy Kids Las Cruces, which started locally in the spring of 2008. Today it’s now replicated in 9 counties, 22 school districts and 3 tribal communities across the state.

Healthy Kids New Mexico works with state and local partners and community coalitions to expand children’s healthy eating and physical activity opportunities where they live, learn, and play.

To reach the state’s preschool population Healthy Kids New Mexico, in partnership with the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), has been working with New Mexico’s licensed childcare centers to increase healthy eating and physical activity opportunities for pre-school children for the last three years. Roughly 42,000 preschool children attend licensed centers.

It’s also partnered with local governments to improve infrastructure, adding things like sidewalks, trails and bike paths… Simple things that make walking or riding safe and convenient.

School districts are helping to make a difference too. As of 2014, 83 percent of students in participating elementary schools in New Mexico have increased healthy eating opportunities, such as pre-made salads, tasting classes, and fruit and vegetable school snacks three times a week. What’s more, 64 percent of students in participating elementary schools have increased physical activity opportunities before, during, and after school on an ongoing and regular basis, such as walk and bike to school, mileage clubs and fitbreaks in the classroom.

The real key to breaking the cycle of childhood obesity in New Mexico lies in starting young.

”If we can prevent obesity from occurring at very young ages, we can hopefully help shape behaviors that support healthy lifestyles later in life,” said Patty Morris, Ph.D., Director of the Department of Health’s Office of Nutrition and Physical Activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 8 preschoolers is obese in the United States.

This March, which just happens to be National Nutrition Month, is a good time to begin thinking about making lifestyle choices. The New Mexico Department of Health recommends the following tips:

  • Prepare more meals as a family. Eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day and drink plenty of water to quench thirst.
  • Downsize portions.
  • Get at least one hour of physical activity a day.
  • Limit screen time and encourage alternate forms of entertainment.
  • Ask your doctor or school nurse if your child is overweight or obese.

For more healthy eating tips, and information, visit the Healthy Kids Healthy Communities section of our website.

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.

Versión en Español

En un esfuerzo para hacer que nuestros comunicados de prensa sean más accesibles, también tenemos disponibles una versión en español. Por favor presione el enlace de abajo para acceder a la traducción.

Nuestros Niños Se Están Encogiendo y Eso Es Algo Bueno