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More Than 15 Percent Of Ohio Kids Considered Obese: Study

CLEVELAND — More than 15 percent of Ohio children are considered obese.

Ohio has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation for children ages 10 to 17, according to a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Roughly one in seven Ohio kids are considered obese.

“Childhood obesity remains an epidemic in this country,” said Jamie Bussel, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation .

Ohio’s obesity rate for kids 10 to 17 is 15.7 percent. The national obesity rate for that age group is 15.5 percent. Ohio has the 20th highest youth obesity rate in the nation.

Poverty is one of the leading contributing factors to youth obesity, the Foundation found. With the coronavirus pandemic causing shutdowns and mass layoffs around the nation, Ohio and the U.S.’s youth obesity crisis may have grown worse.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing economic recession have worsened many of the broader factors we know contribute to obesity, including poverty and health disparities. We must confront these current crises in ways that also support long-term health and equity for all children and families in the United States,” Bussel said.

Obesity rates tend to also reveal racial, ethnic and economic disparities. Black, Hispanic and Native American children have higher obesity rates than white or Asian children, the Foundation said.

“We’ve seen these disparities for decades when it comes to childhood obesity rates,” Bussel said. “This year, we’ve also seen people of color and people with low incomes hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. In both cases these outcomes reflect decades of disinvestment in specific communities and specific groups of people, often driven by the systemic racism and discrimination that are still so prevalent in our society.”

To counteract escalating obesity rates, the Foundation recommended the federal government increase SNAP’s maximum benefit level and expand waivers allowing school districts to feed students and the community.

The data on Ohio’s youth obesity rate is included in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s new report, “State of Childhood Obesity: Prioritizing Children’s Health During the Pandemic.”

The report uses data from the 2018-2019 National Survey of Children’s Health and an analysis conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

This article originally appeared on the Across Ohio Patch

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No Shame In Talking About Obese Gov’s COVID-19 Risk

CHICAGO — While the nation debated the veracity of conspiracy theories on President Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis, I began to worry about the one thing The Donald, quarantined Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, hospitalized former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and 42.4 percent of Americans and I all have in common.

We’re dangerously fat. As soon as Trump tweeted his positive test results, news stories quoted respected physicians and “Dr. Oz” dropping the O-word — “Obesity,” that is — issuing speculative warnings that Trump’s fast-food physique might cause the president extreme suffering, or worse.

That is a touchy topic in the anti-body shaming world we live in. Obesity as a contributing factor to severe coronavirus complications remains a mostly taboo subject that most polite people — like my mother, for instance — don’t bring up in plus-sized company.

As a fat man, I will take certain liberties discussing topics that affect people of heft. Still, back in April, a regular-sized Chicago journalist accused me— a reporter of girth — of fat-shaming Gov. Pritzker when I publicly wondered: “Does everybody look like they’re getting fatter during the pandemic, or is it just me and the governor?”

I don’t know why it’s such a sensitive topic. Last time I checked, lard ass is not a protected class of people. Still, some news outlets tip-toe around the beer-belly risks associated with COVID-19.

Even the Youngstown, Ohio, news station that localized the fat-guy COVID-19 angle with headline pun: “Mercy Health doctor weighs in on President Trump’s COVID diagnosis” — quoted a doctor who said “obesity is a risk factor,” along with a long list of other underlying conditions including heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease and a person’s age.

Hopefully, Trump’s coronavirus eliminates the negative stigma associated with warning fat people that having a body-by-McDonald’s could be the thing that kills you if catch COVID-19.

Carolina Population Center researcher Barry Popkin agrees.

“It’s not fat shaming,” Popkin said. “It’s a matter of risk and warning them to be more cautious. Obesity means you’ve got to be more careful. It’s the same thing we say to people in nursing homes and people with underlying conditions. But with obesity, you need to be even more careful.”

Popkin is not fat, but he knows what he’s talking about.

He led a massive meta-analysis of research studies around the globe that focused on the effects COVID-19 has on obese people published last month in Obesity Reviews, a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal.

The study didn’t have good news for guys like me, Gov. Pritzker and the 61 percent of people in the Chicago metro area that the Centers for Disease Control says are either overweight or obese.

“You’re more than double, essentially 130 percent more likely to be hospitalized than someone who is not obese. Also, if you’re obese, you’re 74 percent more likely to be put in an intensive care unit. And you’re 46 percent more likely to die,” Popkin said.

“So essentially, linkages to serious outcomes with