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Could VA Learn Something From CA?

In May the results of the first ever Virginia Childhood Obesity survey were revealed at the "Weight Of The State" conference held in Richmond. It showed that many children are not eating healthy at home or at school. According to the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, 1 in 5 young people between the ages of 10 and 17 in the state of VA is obese or overweight.

Northern VA fared slightly better than southern VA with only 20% of their youth being overweight compared to 28%in southern VA. However, an interesting finding was that 83% of the youths described themselves as "Just about the right weight". 92% of these youth also reported eating snacks such as chips and candy and drinking soda at least once a week and sometimes up to 7 times a week. Just this week CA released their most recent findings after studying 8 million youth in the state school system. They showed significant declines in white and Asian boys and girls, and Hispanic boys. African American boys and girls rates continue to climb and Hispanic girls remained the same compared to previous years. They contribute this success to changes made in the schools themselves. They now require a Body Mass Index reading on all students in fifth, seventh and ninth grades. Also California lawmakers banned the sale of sugary soft drinks and snacks in schools and took other actions to address childhood obesity such as seeking opportunities to increase the children's activity levels and teach them about healthy food choices. Perhaps there is a lesson for VA schools to learn from these statistics. However, ultimately the parents have the largest impact by setting a good example and providing healthy alternative food and drink for their children.

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