Anchorage noticed nationally for reducing childhood obesity

ANCHORAGE — Anchorage has been recognized by a national public health foundation as one of four communities in the country to have reduced and maintained a lower rate of childhood obesity.

The study was cited by Anchorage School District officials in a press release Tuesday. It shows that obesity rates among Anchorage elementary and middle school children has reduced by 2.2 percent between the 2003-04 school year and the 2010-11 school year and has not increased in six years.

The report praised Anchorage for improving school lunches, increasing physical exercise and health instruction, and getting more students involved in wellness programs, according to Anchorage station KTUU-TV.

“We’re very pleased that this report comes out supporting all these efforts, and we know that a lot of what we’re doing is not reactionary anymore, its preventative,” said Anchorage School District Superintendent Ed Graff. “You know for us to make sure that our students are healthy, it has to be through intentional efforts. You don’t just wake up and say ‘Okay I’m already healthy’ or ‘I’m going to get healthy.’ You have to put a plan in place.”

Even with declining obesity rates, Karol Fink from the Department of Health and Social Services said more work needs to be done to keep kids healthy. Two out of every 10 students in Alaska are obese and face health risks, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

“We know that unhealthy students don’t learn as well,” Fink said. “So healthy students learn better and so that’s part of our initiative is to help make kids healthier.”

The other communities noted in the study are New York City, Granville County, North Carolina and Philadelphia.

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