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Child Obesity Soaring in Rural America
Date:4/9/2010

In one Louisiana community, one in two kids is now overweight or obese, study finds

FRIDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- In the past 35 years, the percentage of overweight or obese children in one Louisiana town has more than tripled, new research shows.

In the early 70s, fewer than one in six children (14.2 percent) in the town of Bogalusa was overweight or obese. By 2008-2009, almost half of the town's children and teens (48.4 percent) fell into those categories, according to a study in the April issue of Pediatrics.

The startling findings come on the heels of a more encouraging study, published in January in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), that found overweight and obesity rates across the United States appeared to finally be leveling off.

"These findings show that we still have a long way to go as a nation to get where we need to be with childhood obesity," said study author Stephanie Broyles, an assistant professor and epidemiologist at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

"Our national goal was 5 percent for childhood obesity by 2010, and we're nowhere near that. This needs to remain a high priority," she said.

The JAMA study found that 16.9 percent of American children are obese.

In the current study, Broyles and her colleagues used data from the Bogalusa Heart Study, a long-term community-based study to assess the natural history and development of heart disease from childhood through adulthood. Bogalusa is a semi-rural town, according to the study.

At the start of the study in 1973, Bogalusa was a community of about 20,000 people, with 65 percent white and 35 percent black residents. In 2008-2009, the researchers found that the population had shrunk to about 13,000 people and was 57 percent white and 41 percent black.

Between the two study periods, the rates of
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