Report: 35 percent of children in N.P. are overweight, obese

Report: 35 percent of children in N.P. are overweight, obese

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Thirty-five percent of North Providence children are overweight or obese, according to a newly released report by Rhode Island Kids Count.

The results of the three-year study show that 17 percent of children in North Providence are overweight and 18 percent are obese. The figure is on par with the statewide average of 35 percent.

Children whose body mass index (BMI) is in the 95th percentile for gender and age are considered to be obese. Children with a BMI between the 85th and 95th percentiles are considered to be overweight or at risk for obesity.

The rate of overweight or obese children was higher in the state’s core cities, with 43 percent either obese or overweight.

Here’s how North Providence compares to neighboring communities:

• Johnston: 16 percent overweight, 17 percent obese

• Pawtucket: 17 percent overweight, 26 percent obese

• Lincoln: 16 percent overweight, 17 percent obese

• Providence: 17 percent overweight, 26 percent obese

• Central Falls: 19 percent overweight, 29 percent obese

• Smithfield: 12 percent overweight, 12 percent obese

Children can become overweight or obese as early as age 2, according to the report. Twenty-six percent of R.I. children ages 2 to 4 are overweight or obese, up to 38 percent for children between ages 5 and 17.

Rhode Island Kids Count recommended that schools continue to monitor the data to identify opportunities for intervention and programs to support children’s healthy weight.

In North Providence, Supt. Joe Goho said the district has a K-12 health curriculum in place, along with a health and wellness committee that meets regularly to devise initiatives and programs to combat child obesity. At the elementary level, he said many schools build “movement breaks” into the day along with recess, yoga and other structured activities.

In addition, Goho said the district’s new food service provider, Chartwells, “works very closely with the district to ensure nutritious breakfast and lunch offerings.”

Some schools also participate in the Recess Rocks in R.I. program, a partnership among Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Playworks New England and Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition to provide free training for school and recess staff “to ensure that recess is a safe, meaningful and healthy experience for every child.”

As of February 2019, 30 schools in the state were taking part in the initiative, including Greystone and Marieville.

The Rhode Island Kids Count data on obesity was based on a first-of-its-kind three-year study working with the Rhode Island Department of Health, Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute, State Innovation Model and three health insurance plans to collect accurate data.