by Roseanna Garza
In order to keep San Antonio healthy and thriving for another 300 years, the community must address the epidemic of childhood obesity that has had a devastating impact both on the city and the state, local health leaders said Wednesday.
“Childhood obesity is preventable through community education and action,” said Linda Hook, assistant professor of nursing at the University of the Incarnate Word. “As our great city celebrates its 300th anniversary, [we aim] to address childhood obesity in an effort to raise awareness and positively impact quality of life.”
More than 50 community members gathered at Holy Spirit Hall on the city’s Eastside for a panel discussion to review the local prevalence of childhood obesity, what is being done, and what can be done to address issues, trends, and solutions.
The prevalence of obesity continues to rise in San Antonio. In 2014, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District reported that 71 percent of adults in Bexar County were overweight or obese. Of children aged 10-17 in Bexar County in 2013, 27 percent of black and Hispanic children were obese, as were 12 percent of white children, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As rates continue to increase across the state, Texas could be faced with a vastly overweight population – nearly 75 percent – by the year 2040, according to the Department of State Health Services.
Arming people with “helpful, healthful” information about how food customs, food choices, and related health issues impact future well-being is essential to improving public health and quality of life, said Hook, the panel moderator.