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Health & Wellness

Number of obese adults in New York has nearly tripled in 30 years, study finds

National Public Radio

New York State has an obesity problem among both young people and their parents and it is getting worse. That is the conclusion in a new study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Three figures tell the problem: in 1990, a little under 10% of New York's adults were obese. In 2000, it was 17%. Now, it is approaching 28%.

Researchers say chubby kids turn into obese adults over time.

"There's a saying that the treatment of childhood obesity yields the prevention of adulthood obesity and there's a lot of truth to that," said Myles Faith, chair and professor of counseling, school and educational psychology at the University at Buffalo's Graduate School of Education, "and that is because childhood obesity tracks over time. It's a very stable tracking condition. So young children who are obese tend to become obese adolescents."

Overall, New York State has nearly 268,000 obese young people, although the percentage of kids who are obese is a little below the national average. Faith said the report puts together data and recommendations not usually available.

Credit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
New York State obesity in adults.

"They put together data and statistics at the state level and at the national level in a way that has not been done before at this scope and level, so people can actually look and get actual numbers and rate," said Faith. "So that's new. Also what's new is the report makes a lot of policy recommendations for many programs."

Faith said he has been studying childhood obesity for 20 years and sees how it is usually a family issue, but it can be turned around so heavy children do not turn into obese adolescents.

"You have families come in where there's a child with overweight and obesity, and what the research has been very clear on this is that when the parents are part of the team and working together and serving as role models and praising and cheering on the teens, the whole family can win," Faith said. "The kids do better. They make healthier choices. They can lose weight and, guess what, so do the parents."

He said the push for fresher foods available to families can help ease the issue.

Credit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Credit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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