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New study spotlights childhood obesity and possible risks for coronavirus
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A mother purchasing fruits and vegetables
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

A newly released report ranks Mississippi second in the nation for childhood obesity.

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Twenty-two percent of children ages 10 to 17 in Mississippi are obese according to Jamie Bussel. She’s with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which just released the study. She says the data reviewed is from 2018 and 19. Bussel says this year, researchers are concerned that obese children are at a greater risk of contracting the coronavirus and suffering more severe symptoms just like obese adults.

“There are certainly a lot of hypotheses being made by the experts around the impact of the COVID pandemic on childhood obesity prevalence rates but it’s going to take some time before we can actually do that and attribute it,” said Bussel.

Bussel says obesity rates are higher among low income families, Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans--the same communities hardest hit by the coronavirus. Sonja Fuqua oversees weight management programs with the Community Health Center Association of Mississippi. She says bringing attention to obesity as a risk factor for COVID 19 is important.

“I think the fact that it is now recognized as such a great health risk, we can’t eradicate it I can’t say that but I think we have more opportunities for even health plans promoting prevention more,” said Fuqua.

Fugua says the coronavirus has also kept many children at home and they’re getting limited exercise.

State of Childhood Obesity: Prioritizing Children's Health During the Pandemic

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