Arkansas study: childhood obesity worse than expected

(June 4, 2004) — (Little Rock-AP) -- The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics says an Arkansas study showing that forty percent of the state's public school children are overweight will focus more attention on childhood weight problems. The Arkansas study released yesterday is the first of its kind. A compilation of body-mass index calculations in Arkansas also showed nearly one in four children is obese, a sign that the problems is probably far worse nationwide than health officials had thought. The findings are the result of a new state law in Arkansas, where officials have made obesity a top issue. The Arkansas numbers paint a more dire picture than previous national studies. Those have indicated that about 30 percent of American children are overweight or obese. Those falling into the obese category account for about 15 percent. In Arkansas, about 22 percent of the children are considered obese while 18 percent are merely overweight. Fifty-eight percent are normal weight, and two percent are underweight.