A report released this week found Oregon to be the only state in the union in which the rate of obesity among adults did not go up in the past two years, but Tim Lane of the Iowa Department of Public Health is holding out hope that new recreational spots in Iowa will help this state overcome its upward obesity trend. “The good news for Iowa is that both attitudes and opportunities are changing,” Lane says. He cites the new riverwalk in downtown Des Moines as well as new federal funding for biking and hiking trails in Iowa. It’s that kind of outdoor activity that has helped Oregon be such a healthy state, according to Lane. Lane says with a “temperate” climate, you can go biking or hiking or skiing just about year-round in Oregon. “Those options are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Lane says. Lane is particularly concerned about getting kids involved in activities, as more children are being diagnosed with the type of diabetes that is usually found only in adults, primarily because more and more kids are obese. A study from the Mayo Institute found that over the past 30 years, fracture rates among adolescents had increased a percentage point each year. “Their diet is not contributing the strong bones nor is their lifestyle building strong muscles and strong bones,” Lane says. “Not only do we have now a frail elderly population, we’re starting to get a much more frail youth population and the economic and social consequences of that are just frightening.” Lane says the state is trying to encourage healthier lifestyles with several projects, including the “Lighten Up, Iowa” program which encourages teams of Iowans to compete to see which team can collectively lose the most weight.
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