How Poverty Affects Children's Weight
A number of recession-related factors may lead to an increase in the number of overweight children:
Lower-income parents' food choices can be limited by having insufficient financial resources to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and less time to prepare home-cooked meals. Restricted food budgets often force families to feed their children cheaper foods that may be more affordable and easier to prepare, but also can be less nutritious. Additionally, disadvantaged neighborhoods tend to have fewer stores that sell fresh, healthy, and affordable foods.
Opportunities for physical activity among children overall also are becoming increasingly limited. Many physical education programs in schools have been or are at risk of being cut, and funding for afterschool programs is dwindling.
In addition, budget cuts to parks and recreation programs have led to fewer safe outdoor spaces to play, potentially leading to more children who engage in sedentary indoor activities, such as playing video games, surfing the Internet, and watching television.
Why It Matters
Children who are overweight or obese are at risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, and Type 2 diabetes, among other serious physical problems. Type 2 diabetes is a particular concern, as it now is being found in children at increasing rates. Overweight and obese children also are more likely to have weight problems in adulthood.
How Children Are Faring
Fifth-Grade Students with Healthy Weight, 2010
Region Result California 69% Southern California Average 68% Southern California Range 63% (Imperial County) – 73% (Orange County)
Overweight/Obese 2-4-Year-Olds Served by Low-Income Public Health Programs, 2009
Region Result California 33% Southern California Average 39.3% Southern California Range 29% (Imperial County) – 35% (Los Angeles County) See slideshow
Note: California figures and Southern California ranges are presented as reported in the original data source. Southern California averages, however, have been calculated. Specifically, population estimates for children within the same age range as the original indicator within each county, and Southern California as a whole, were used to create the weighted averages presented. See slideshow for more details about the data source.
What First 5s Are Doing
Orange funds Dr. Riba's Health Club to provide obesity treatment and prevention services for children ages 0-5 and their families. Orange also partners with Boys & Girls Club to implement the LEAN Start curriculum, which teaches parents strategies to maximize their children's health through optimum nutrition and physical activity.
Through Best Start LA, Los Angeles supports community members and stakeholders to build upon existing services, programs and resources to ensure that children are able to achieve the four priority goals: born healthy, maintain a healthy weight, are safe from abuse and neglect and are ready for kindergarten. Community will create local plan's to address these issues. LA's data partnership with PHFE-WIC, has provided critical information about low income families with children aged 0-5, including data related to children's weight. This data support's local commission planning and helped policy makers, health planners, and community leaders better serve children across the county.