"The fact that one-third of South Dakota students are overweight or at risk for overweight is a serious public health problem for our state," said Kristin Bisekborn, state nutritionist for the Department of Health. "While the number is basically what it was in last year's survey, clearly there is a lot of work to do in South Dakota if we want our kids to lead healthy lives and reduce their risk of heart disease, diabetes, liver disorders and the other complications of overweight."
The department's survey of students in the 2005-2006 school year found 33.8 percent of students in the state were overweight or at risk for overweight, comparable to the 33 percent reported in 2004-2005.Overweight is defined as above the 95th percentile for kids of the same age and gender; at risk for overweight is between the 85th and 94th percentiles.
A total of 276 schools participated in the survey, accounting for 33.8 percent of students in the state. For the past four years, the department has provided scales and measuring boards to schools who wish to participate to help assure accurate information.
"Schools are taking this survey information seriously and using it to improve nutrition and physical activity in their settings; for example, providing exercise equipment for their students and offering healthy foods for snack time and parties," said Biskeborn.
South Dakota's Health 2010 goal is to reduce the percent of school age children and adolescents who are overweight to no more than 15 percent.
The annual South Dakota School Height Weight Report is a cooperative effort of the Departments of Health and Education. Schools have submitted student height and weight data each year since 1999. The 2005-2006 report and reports from previous years are on the Web at www.state.sd.us/doh/SchoolWeight.