2010-09-17 / Community

Rockaway’s Children Need To Slim Down

By Miriam Rosenberg

Nearly 40 percent of New York City’s students are overweight or obese. That is according to the Departments of Health and Education. And Rockaway is not immune to the problem.

The data, which was broken up into area codes, shows that between 39.1 percent to 42.4 percent of youngsters in Far Rockaway (area code 11691) are obese. In Arverne (area code 11692) the numbers rise – between 42.5 percent and 51 percent of the area’s children are obese. The percentage of obese children gets lower as the area codes move towards the west end – between 15.1 and 39 percent. In Breezy Point (area code 11697), 27 percent of children are considered obese.

According to WABC-TV news, the 2009 report, which takes into consideration the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 school years, shows that in both years 18 percent of city public school children in kindergarten through eight grade were overweight and 22 percent were obese.

“When four out of 10 school kids are overweight or obese, the city has a problem,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner in a press release. “We know that physical activity can combat obesity and its health consequences.”

The report says physical fitness and developing healthy eating habits are a must for children.

Parents need to make sure kids get at least one hour of physical activity a day. Bicycling, dancing, jumping rope, playing basketball or going for a walk are some of the fun things that children can do to stay fit.

Parents also should limit a child’s exposure to TV, video games and Internet use; prepare healthful meals at home; offer children fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack; don’t let children drink their calories, such as in juice or high-calorie, sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas and instead choose water and low-fat milk; and encourage children to take advantage of healthy food choices provided at school.

“This report suggests that healthy, active kids also learn better,” added Farley. According to an NYC Department of Education press release, the data shows a strong association between fitness and academic success. During the 2007-2008 school year, students who scored in the top 5 percent on their NYC FITNESSGRAM assessments outscored the bottom 5 percent by an average of 36 percentile points on standardized academic tests.

“The long-term health of our students is very important,” said Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. “The report’s findings send a clear message to schools, parents and healthcare providers to do everything possible to ensure that children receive the opportunities for physical activity and the proper nutrition that will help them stay fit and healthy.”

Childhood obesity increases a child’s risk of developing diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol – all potentially lifelong health problems – as well as heart disease and cancer during adulthood.

NYC FITNESSGRAM is the citywide fitness assessment that is part of a student’s physical education program.

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