“Kentucky High School Students Have the Worst Obesity Rate in the US at 18%”

School Lunch TrayChild advocates were disappointed, but not surprised, to see the statistic above.  We are also 5th in the nation for adult obesity, according to a new report, The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America.

Advocates have been working tirelessly to reverse the childhood obesity trend in Kentucky – which is why the recent report was disheartening to hear. But several recent childhood obesity efforts that have emerged in Kentucky are encouraging, including:

  • Governor Steve Beshear has made improving the overall health of Kentucky’s families and children a top priority and has a goal of reducing the state’s overall obesity rate by 10%. His Kentucky Health Now initiative focuses on reversing the obesity trend and includes efforts such as partnering with school districts to report aggregate child obesity rates at the county level, and working with early child care providers to increase opportunities to prevent obesity among our youngest children.
  • Governor Beshear has also supported efforts to get Kentuckians more active outdoors. He recently announced funding to extend the Lexington Area Town Branch Trail by nearly another 1½ miles. and will add new trail town distinctions in four Kentucky communities. These distinctions improve opportunities for locals to get outside and exercise–and increase tourism. Find out how to make your community a “Trail Town.”
  • In July, University of Kentucky President (and national public health expert) Dr. Eli Capiluoto and Dr. Mary Lynne Capiluoto invited 60 education and health leaders to campus to tackle how to improve childhood obesity efforts at the school level. Participants at the Leadership Summit on Childhood Obesity decided on the following broad categories on which to focus change: educators, community, and policy. This group now plans to tackle the priorities with several strategies. More to come on that soon!
  • Partnerships to create “Shared Use Agreements,” which would allow the public and organizations to use school and community recreation facilities, are springing up all across the state. Most recently, we have been working with the National Safe Routes to School initiative and the Cumberland Valley Health District to promote utilization of school facilities by community partners. They have been able to facilitate a successful signing of a shared use agreement in Bell County, Kentucky and are working on more.

As September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, we wanted to call attention to these multifaceted approaches we think will help turn the tide on the obesity in Kentucky. It may take several years to reverse this trend, but together, we can make that happen.

Want to join the effort to reduce childhood obesity? The Southern Obesity Summit will be held in Louisville at the end of September. Register here to be a part of this regional effort to bring people together to solve the obesity issues in the south.

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