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Facts about Nebraska’s Children and Obesity

  • 27% of children and 21% of teens are obese, an increase of 54 percent in the last 20 years.
  • One in every six Nebraska students in grades K-12 (16.2%) is overweight, while one in every three (33%) Nebraska students in K-12 are overweight or at risk for becoming overweight or obese.
  • The medical consequences of obesity vary. However, obese children and teens have an increased risk of health issues such as hypertension, respiratory problems, bone and joint difficulties, type 2 diabetes and more.
  • The psychosocial disadvantages of being overweight in childhood may include peer teasing, scholastic discrimination, low self-esteem and negative body image.

Obesity in Douglas County Nebraska

  • 63% of adults are overweight or obese.
  • Obesity rates among children in Douglas County have reached more than 28%.

Play is vital to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. More than likely, play does the same for adults.

Today, a number of forces are competing for the play time and physical activity so essential to children’s health. A fast-paced lifestyle, changes in family structure and increased attention to academics and enrichment activities all encroach on physical-play time.

Screen time may be one of the biggest competitors for play time. Each day, children spend 7½ hours using entertainment media. The more time they spend in front of the screen, the more likely they are to be overweight. Only 42% of kids between the ages of 6 and 11 get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise per day, and as they get older, their activity level decreases. Only 8% of adolescents get enough exercise each day.

The National Institutes of Health suggests making children’s bedrooms off-limits to TV; limiting screen time to no more than two hours a day; and turning screen time into active time by doing simple exercises during commercial breaks.

Douglas County organizations have been focused on creating new environments and enhancing current community spaces to ensure adults and children can be physically active in their daily routines. In the works are new park facilities, walking/biking trails, and bike lanes on roadways.

You don’t need a pricey gym membership to be physically active. The city of Omaha offers an extensive parks system with recreational activities ongoing throughout the year. The parks and recreation system includes:

  • More than 210 parks and sports fields with 11,000 acres
  • Six large regional parks that include trails, boating, and camping
  • More than 90 miles of bicycle trails
  • Seven city-run public golf courses
  • Nineteen swimming pools and five water playgrounds
  • More than 200 tennis courts
  • One city-run ice arena
  • Sixteen community centers with classes (some are also senior centers)
  • Seven park pavilions and 14 picnic shelters that can be rented

There are specialty parks with room for skateboards, trap and skeet shooting, BMX tracks, a few “spray-grounds” (toddler-friendly splash pads), rock climbing walls and a handicapped-accessible park for those with special needs.

Source:  “Activate Omaha”

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