Compared to the rest of the country, Idaho kids are less likely to be obese. That’s according to new data analyzed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The national overweight and obesity rate among 10-17 years olds is 31.2 percent. In Idaho, that rate is 26 percent – making the state the ninth healthiest among this age group.
In general it seems like children in the Northwest are pretty healthy, with Oregon, Washington and Montana all faring better than Idaho on the obesity scale. Utah boasts the lowest rate of overweight young people according to the study, while Tennessee has the highest rate. Jane Shimon is a Boise State professor and helps prepare future K-12 health teachers.
“A lot of the western states are fairly low [when it comes to obesity rates]," says Shimon. "Whether it’s the climate or the availability to be active more outdoors – maybe it’s the culture, the mentality of people who live out West. Who knows for whatever reasons, but it’s nice to see we’re still fairly low with those obesity rates.”
The report also looks at numbers for adults suffering from the disease. Idaho kids are healthier than their older counterparts, but overall the national rate of obesity is showing some signs of leveling off.
The analysis advocates several policy objectives, including prioritizing funding for Head Start and obesity prevention through Medicare and Medicaid.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
Copyright 2017 Boise State Public Radio