Task Force on Childhood Obesity Commission Summary

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January 26, 2010

Co-chairs: Representative Yongue and Senator Purcell

Childhood Obesity Epidemic: North Carolina’s Response:

  • Impact on Schools June Atkinson, State Superintendent presented information from the public school’s perspective. NC has the eighth largest school meals program in the nation, serving more than 1.8 million meals per day. There is not enough funding to provide quality foods for the school children eating the school lunch. NC is one of only 14 states who provide no state funding to support the school lunch program. The SBE developed nutrition standards for elementary schools and 85 percent of elementary schools have voluntarily implemented these standards which are required beginning with the 2010 -2011 school year. The SBE has a policy on physical activity and supports other initiatives such as the use of Energizers for all teachers in the classroom. Only 40 percent of NC elementary schools provide 150 minutes of physical education and only 44 percent of middle schools provide 225 minutes of the Healthful Living Standard Course of Study per week. Representative Grady asked the reason for the low numbers. Time in the day and staffing were the two main answers. Dr. Atkinson completed her presentation with a review of the physical activity and curriculum being used in the schools as well as the many programs supported across the state (including the health partners assisting in these programs). Dr. Purcell and Representative Yongue pressed Dr. Atkinson for an answer on the use of Indirect Funds, unfortunately there was no answer, though she promised to provide one to the committee. She was also asked if Indirect Costs were eliminated would school lunch programs be able to provide healthy nutritious meals and not find themselves in debt or being bailed out by the local school district (local funds)? Representative Weiss commented on the cost of the breakfast program and the foods being served were not inexpensive (pancakes and sausage). She suggested cereal and skim milk.
  • Impact on the Health System Maria Spaulding, Deputy Secretary, DHHS presented information on the health care system in NC and how they are dealing with the obesity crisis.  Medical costs as result of obesity are estimated to cost the nation more than $92 billion annually. NC is the 10th highest state for medical costs attributed to obesity.  NC was highest among many southern states including SC, Va, and Ga. As part of the Medicaid program since Jan 2008 nutritional therapy is an allowable expense. A new food package for Women with Children was developed in October 2009 and DHHS is partnering in other state initiatives to improve the obesity issue in NC. They work with Eat Smart, Move More, community health assessments, collaborating with DPI and supporting new child care standards.
  • Impact on the Health of Children Jeffrey Engel, NC State Health Director reviewed the obesity issue as a physician and the state health director. Nationally the trends for obesity among adults in the US has grown since 1985 to greater than 25-30 percent in more than 31 states. While tobacco remains the number one preventable disease in NC diet and physical inactivity are ranked a close second. No state has seen a decrease in obesity for the past 16 years. More than 65 percent of NC adults are overweight or obese, while almost 33 percent of NC children between the ages of 10-17 were overweight or obese. Diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death in NC in 2006. He reviewed more than 10 health conditions that can result from obesity. Heart disease is twice a prevalent in adults who are obese and overweight individuals are nearly 40 percent more likely to develop heart disease. The percentage of obese mothers in NC has increased from 34 percent to 41 percent in the past ten years. With African Americans accounting for the largest increase. Nationally obese adult numbers have increased 10 percent since 1995, while in NC the rate has increased 11 percent, with our present numbers 1t 29 percent exceeding the national rate by 3 percentage points.
  • Childhood Obesity Epidemic: Impact on the State’s Economy: David Chenoweth, Worksite Health Promotion Director, Department of Health Education and Promotion, ECU presented on “Tipping the Scales,” an article about how obesity and unhealthy lifestyles have become a weighty problem for the North Carolina economy. The report cites eight risk factors that contribute to the loss of $57 billion in public and private funds. The primary factors include: lack of physical activity, inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, and Type II diabetes.  The cost is in direct and indirect health care expenses for employees and employers.  The trend is bad and unless there is a significant change NC could lose more than $75 billion by 2011.  Be Active NC has begun a statewide campaign called “Three Percent”. If three out of every 100 North Carolinians achieved normal weight the state could save $3 billion over the next five years.
  • NC Obesity Prevention Funders Alliance Jennifer MacDougall, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Foundation and Meka Sales, Duke Endowment addressed the Commission with information on Obesity Prevention by the Funders Alliance. There were seven members listed with Blue Cross and Duke Endowment at the top of the list. They outlined the purpose of the Alliance to identify individual agency investments and identify priorities for collaborative work. Some of the collaborative projects included: 2008 Obesity Summit and the NC Institute of Medicine Prevention Task Force. Lessons learned were the following: identify strategies for most promising practice, identify community capacity to implement strategies, invest in technical assistance to ensure outcomes, obesity prevention strategies must involve multiple approach and multiple groups, long-term investment is required.  The Alliance prepared and released A Prevention Action Plan in October 2009. The Alliance must focus on the challenges, support the recommendations of the Action Plan, strengthen state and local monitoring, continue to develop public/private partnerships, provide leadership, and align state activities for the future

Adjournment and Future Meeting Dates:

February 2-Active Living and Nutritious Food in the Community,

February 11-Children’s Access to Nutritious Food: Preschool to High School,

February 15– Children’s Physical Activity, BMI, and Fitness,

February 23– Food Industry

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2 Responses to “Task Force on Childhood Obesity Commission Summary”

  1. NCEducationPolicy.com’s 2010 IN REVIEW: Statistics and other Note-worthies from the past 12 « North Carolina Education Policy Blog Says:

    […] The busiest day of the year was April 20th with 221 views. The most popular post that day was Task Force on Childhood Obesity Commission Summary . […]

  2. Beth Bjerregaard Says:

    How about we:

    . add back in a second recess or require a phys ed class.
    . serve ONLY decent food at the cafeterias ( HUGE .. most of it is just plain junk). No more “al a cart lines”. Why is desert even offered at lunch >
    . get rid of snack machines
    . stop allowing parents to bring in Treats for the whole class.. ( it’s constant )
    . stop encouraging snacks ( schools even provide snacks if parents haven’t supplied them … since when is breakfast and lunch NOT sufficient? )

    You want to test the kids, record results ( bmi, physical tests ) and track them. NO. We do this at the doctors.
    I will not allow the school and government to take and record these measurements on my child.

    Thank You, Beth


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