A report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation suggests kids need to eat healthier. (RWJF photo)

A new report finds about one in every six Iowa kids is obese, which is on par with national figures.

Jamie Bussel is a senior program officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which released the annual State of Childhood Obesity report. That report studied obesity rates in children nationwide between the ages of ten and 17.

“For Iowa, it’s 16.9% and that’s in comparison to the national average which is 16.2%,” Bussel says, “so Iowa is essentially right at the national average.”

Iowa ranks 18th in the nation on this report, a rise from 22nd place last year and a drop from 14th the year before. Bussel says we shouldn’t get too hung up on those national rankings. “We’re not seeing any statistically significant changes from the year before,” Bussel says. “The most important message here is that childhood obesity rates are far too high across the nation and kids of color and those that live furthest from economic opportunity are at greatest risk.”

The pandemic has forced many Iowa kids — and adults — to live a more sedentary lifestyle, and Bussel says it’s absolutely having an impact on our weight and our health. “I have a feeling that we’re going to continue to see over the next couple of years impacts on obesity specifically related to COVID,” Bussel says. “The fact that kids are getting back into schools, have access to more secure meals at schools, more opportunities for physical activity, certainly those are great signs of hope.”

The study suggests solutions that include making universal school meals permanent and broadening federal programs like WIC and others which are designed to pull families from poverty.

See the full report at: https://stateofchildhoodobesity.org/