Obesity in Texas schools

By: Morgan Downing Email
By: Morgan Downing Email

SHERMAN, TX -- "Reshaping Texas" was launched by the state Comptroller's office. The website contains data about obesity rates at schools statewide, and tips to combat it. It also maps out the obesity risk of each school district. A few Texas schools in our area have been deemed "high risk". So, we looked into what that really means for your kids.

Obesity is not only a health risk, but according to the Texas Comptroller, it's a heavy financial burden. Obesity is estimated to cost Texas $9.5 billion a year.

"The fear is that it could go up to $32.5 billion annually by 2030 if things continue the way they are," Texas Comptroller press secretary, Kevin Lyons said.

Dr. Maria Vallejo-Nieto of Sherman Family Healthcare says she isn't surprised.

"The amount of obesity that we see in elementary school and high school has increased a big percentage in the past years, and it's going to keep growing if we don't do something about it," Dr. Nieto said.

So, "Reshaping Texas" was launched. The site maps Body Mass Index data from FitnessGram, a state mandated fitness test administered throughout school districts.

The map puts school districts into three categories: healthy fitness zone, some risk zone and high risk zone.

Falling into the high risk zone -- Chisum, Honey Grove, Bonham, Sherman and Gainesville school districts. In the Sherman ISD, 37 percent of students are at high risk.

"I really do believe that we are doing a very good job" Lauren Dill SISD

Sherman ISD Director of District Initiatives, Lauren Dill, says the district has implemented many programs to fight obesity.

"We try to take every student that comes with us and provide them an equal opportunity to engage in a healthy lifestyle," Dill said.

She says the district provides certified P.E. teachers, which isn't required by the state, and they've put in new menus that meet new USDA standards.

"Just in one week alone we offer fresh broccoli, fresh cucumber, fresh bananas. We offer carrots, sweet peas, green beans," Dill said.

But even with these programs, schools can't act alone. Dr. Nieto says it really falls on the parents.

"There are many things that can be done, but especially you are their role model. So, they will follow you. So, the best thing you can do is work on yourself so they can work on theirs," Dr. Nieto said.

Dr. Nieto says hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and emotional problems are just among the few problems arising in overweight children.

"We're seeing these now more frequent in kids when it used to be just a problem for grownups. So, it's a serious thing," Dr. Nieto said.

The site also says economically disadvantaged students and low-income families are at higher risk.

To see the rating of your child's school district and for information on how to start living a healthy lifestyle, we've posted a link to the Reshaping Texas website below.


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