Obesity Down In Younger RI Kids, Unchanged In High Schoolers

Nov 6, 2014

Fewer elementary and middle school students in Rhode Island are obese. That’s according to a new analysis from Rhode Island Kids Count. But the needle isn’t budging on obesity in high schoolers.

Childhood health experts gather at a policy roundtable discussion of Rhode Island Kids Count's new issue brief on childhood obesity. From far left, RI Kids Count's Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island's Peter Andruszkiewicz, and Kids Count analyst James Beasley.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The Kids Count analysis found that obesity and overweight rates among Rhode Island high schoolers haven’t changed for more than a decade. Researchers say about 11 percent are obese – lower than most other states. But 16 percent are overweight, higher than most states. Why no improvement? Analyst Jim Beasley said it’s tough to chalk it up to one reason. Obese kids are more likely to get less physical activity. But they’re no more likely to shun healthy food.

“There are no variations across BMI (body mass index)," said Beasley.  "All students are equally as likely regardless of their BMI to consume too few fruits and vegetables.”

It’s no surprise kids aren’t eating enough fruits and veggies. But the trend may be surprising: the percentage of students who report eating fewer than five fruits and vegetables a day has gone up over the past couple of years.