Schools get help tracking child obesity

Schools get help tracking child obesity
The Department of Health is again awarding measuring boards and scales to schools across the state to help track the state's child obesity problem. Seventy-four schools representing 37 districts, private schools, or BIA schools in the state will receive the equipment to monitor student height and weight. This is the third year the department has awarded the equipment to schools.

"We're pleased that we can help schools with the equipment they need to monitor student height and weight," said Kristin Biskeborn, MPH, RD, LN, state nutritionist for the Department of Health. "This equipment can help them in their own effort to increase physical activity and healthy eating by their students and it gives us the data we need to track obesity on a statewide level."

The data collection is a cooperative effort by the Departments of Health and Education. Biskeborn said schools have been submitting student height and weight data each year since 1999. The 2003-2004 data show 31.9 percent of South Dakota students were overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. Overweight is defined as above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and gender; at risk for overweight is between the 85th and 94th percentiles. The 2003-2004 report and reports from previous years are on the Web at


Overweight children are more likely to have elevated blood pressure and elevated insulin levels, risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. They are also more likely to have liver disorders, hypertension, sleep apnea and orthopedic complications as well as to be overweight as adults.

In exchange for the equipment, schools are asked to submit height and weight data for three years. The equipment was purchased by the department with grant funds from the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant and the Nutrition and Physical Activity Grant to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases.

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