A new national report finds Iowa in the top ten states for number of obese youth. In Linn County, the numbers are high.
Data collected by Linn County Department of Health in July 2018 shows that nearly 32 percent of children in the Cedar Rapids Community School District are already overweight or obese by the time they reach kindergarten. By adulthood, that number doubles. Sixty-three percent of Linn County adults are overweight or obese.
The County says many Corridor families lack financial and transportation access to healthier foods. "It's not that someone doesn't want to be healthier," said Amy Hockett, the epidemiologist for Linn County Public Health. "There's a lot of barriers, specifically for our low-income population." Cedar Rapids Community School District is trying to break down those barriers once a kid gets to be of school age, as one of the few districts nationwide that has a coordinator for district-wide health efforts.
Stephanie Neff helps bring in community agencies like Hy-Vee dieticians and Iowa State Extension to educate students on nutrition, and ensure all schools receive equal wellness education. Neff says the role of parents is critical, but not all schools are on equal footing."
Some PTOs are taking wellness and really running with it in their building, and then other buildings may not have as active of a PTO and so the responsibility for that falls a little bit more on the staff who have other responsibilities in the building," said Neff.
Wednesday, Linn County held a public meeting with members from different county agencies like schools, hospitals, and the YMCA to develop a community-wide goal to tackle the issue and implement it by January.