New Report Shows Childhood Obesity in Lynchburg Is Not Decreasing

Lynchburg, VA - There's a new look at the state of childhood obesity in our nation. The report released this month looked at four localities plus five states. Each one was able to lower childhood obesity significantly.

In Lynchburg, the report shows 1/3 of our kids are either overweight or obese. But one organization is working hard to make our youth stay healthy and fit.

The Jubilee Center is on the front lines of helping our youth, and their physical health is a big part of that. For Director Sterling Wilder, getting our youth in shape takes more than one player, it takes a team.

"It's changing habits. Changing habits of the children, of the parents, of the culture," said Wilde.

The same is true nationally. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation studied communities once on an unhealthy track now headed in a better direction.

Take Mississippi: The kindergarten through 5-year-old age group in that state saw a 13 % drop in obese and overweight kids.

We took the study to the Central Virginia Health District and Dr. Kerry Gateley.

"I don't think we are exceptionally good in this area, or exceptionally bad," said Gateley.

Gateley says Lynchburg's been hovering at a 1/3 obesity rate for nearly three decades.

States like Mississippi, he admits, are worse off. But for all of us, the Mississippi's and the Lynchburg's of the world obesity often comes down to lifestyle.

"When we talk about overweight, when we talk about obesity in kids and adults, what we are really talking about are maladies of lifestyle."

That means physical activity's great. But, it's just one part. It takes other things some don't think of - like the environment.

"Sometimes, it's a matter of street lights, sidewalk repair, and policing," said Gateley.

But with camps and Lynchburg leaders putting obesity concerns on the table, change is hopefully not far off.

"We're hoping that all those little pieces that we're doing is making an inroad by the end of the summer, especially," said Wilder.

Unhealthy kids often starts with unhealthy parents. Statistics for adult obesity aren't much better.

According to that Robert Wood Johnson study, the medical cost of adult obesity in this country ranges from $147-210 billion every year.