New report finds Iowa ranked 10th nationally in childhood obesity

Iowa also ranked 4th highest adult obesity rate in the nation

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 8:52 PM

CHARLES CITY, Iowa - A new report titled "The State of Obesity" from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is a non-profit focused on health, is showing Iowa is 4th in adult obesity and 10th in youth obesity, out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

And one area school is helping students stay in shape.

Carrie Jones is a parent of a 12 year old daughter and 10 year old son, who both attend Charles City Middle School. One thing on her mind is that her kids are getting enough physical activity in the day.

"My two children that are here are not sport oriented, but knowing it's true physical education for the children and the kids."

With Iowa's high rank in terms of obesity, she says it's quite surprising.

"In general, people kinda view us as that farming community. People are outside working hard all the time, and we are, but times are changing. When kids aren't at school, there's lots more opportunities for them to be doing more stationary not physically active activities."

The report found that the rate of obesity in Iowa's youth ages 10-17 is at 17.7%, compared to the national rate of 15.8%. In adults, it's even more, at a rate of 36.4%.

With Minnesota, the report found virtually the opposite: the obesity rate among youth 10-17 is 48th in the nation at 10.4%, while being ranked 35th at 28.4% for adults.

Rusty Rogotzke has been teaching physical education classes for 29 years, 11 of them at Charles City. He has a theory as to why youth obesity rates are increasing.

"I think it has a lot to do with the activities kids have outside of school, where more and more kids go home and don't have a lot of active time. They sit on the couch and play video games and stuff like that."

Since he was in school, physical education classes have been taking a closer look at individual workout and fitness geared toward creating healthy habits at a younger age. In PE classes, middle and high schoolers wear IHT Zones, watches that detect movement and heart rates in real time.

"It's a wrist worn heart rate monitor so the kids come in at the beginning of the year, we can get their height and weight, put it in a program, it computes their BMI, and then adjusts what their heart rate should be."

The watch has three color coded zones, with blue meaning "resting heart rate", yellow is for more moderate activity, and red is high-intensive activity, with a goal to be met each day. And sofar, students are liking them.

"I think we've noticed there's much more engagement from the kids because now they have more responsibility. I don't have to run around the room saying, 'you need to work harder, you need to work harder.' I go around the room and say, 'what color is your watch?', they look at it, it's blue, I need to get going, and they take care of that themselves."

Jones says she wishes this technology was around when she was in school.

"This would've made a big difference."

The report also found that Mississippi topped the list for youth obesity, while Utah had the lowest rate. In addition, West Virginia takes the top spot for adult obesity, while Colorado has the lowest rate.

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