Experts say about one in four Iowa kids are overweight. That’s slightly worse than the national trends. Ron Askland is with the Children’s Center at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. Askland says overweight kids say their biggest problem is “social discrimination” and they have poor self-esteem and suffer from depression. Askland says a lack of physical activity and eating habits are the primary causes of obesity in kids. Askland says television, computers and video games contribute to an inactive lifestyle. He urges parents to ensure their kids engage in at least one hour of moderate physical activity each day. Askland says parents should tell their kids to walk to school and take steps to change their food intake, like substituting water for fruit juices and sports drinks. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 14 percent of teenagers were overweight in 1999, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Askland says a survey of Des Moines middle school students this past spring found the rate of obesity even worse in the capitol city. Two-thousand students were weighed and their height was measured. Over 21 percent were considered obese; 40 percent were considered at risk for becoming overweight. Askland released the statistics today during a news conference in Des Moines sponsored by an organization that’s seeking to boost the health of Des Moines-area youth..
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