ORANGE COUNTY: Growing Percentage of Obese Children Prompts Action
Children in Orange County are becoming overweight "at increasingly earlier ages," the Orange County Register reports. Alarmed by the trend, local researchers and physicians maintain they are "paying closer attention to children's weight." In January, county nutritionists and private childhood obesity experts created the Children and Weight Task Force to "increase community awareness and work toward countywide programs." Drs. Dan Cooper and Floyd Culler of UC-Irvine are planning to open two fitness clinics for overweight children this June, one in Irvine and a second, depending on available monies, in Santa Ana. "By the time kids are two and three and four, patterns of physical activity are being set," Cooper said. He added, "If the parents are driving everywhere, even if the kid is a toddler, the toddler isn't toddling." Another project, Kid Shape, a 13-year-old Los Angeles-based program, plans to open a nutrition and fitness center near Santa Ana in two months. Also, Lindora Medical Clinics, which operates eight Orange County weight-loss facilities, in the past year has dropped its requirement age for clients from 14 to 7. Weight gain at an early age could "herald a lifetime of problems," as Culler notes that 15% of "obese adults were obese at 6 months and 40% were obese at age 7." According to an American Diabetes Association study, researchers reported an "approximately 20% surge this year from 1990 in the number of children diagnosed with type-2 diabetes." The study reveals that 85% of the newly diagnosed children were overweight. According to a 1997 county Health Care Agency study, 13.7% of Orange County children are ranked higher than the 95% percentile on the pediatric weight chart, compared with 10.3% nationwide (Saar, 3/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.