Released by Cigna
Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and currently, one in three children are overweight or obese. In the state of Illinois, childhood obesity rates exceed the national average with 34.9% of children considered overweight or obese. Research shows that overweight children are more than twice as likely as children of normal weight to become overweight adults.[i][ii]
Children who are consistently overweight from childhood to adulthood are over five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and nearly three times more likely to develop high blood pressure, compared to normal-weight children.[iii]
The rate of obesity for children aged 2 to 5 years in Chicago is more than twice as high (22%) as the national average (10%).[iv]
Nationally, US children were measured in kindergarten, 6th grade and 9th grade:
11.4% kindergarten students are considered overweight and 12.7% are obese.
18.6% 6th grade students are considered overweight and 20.4% are obese.
15.4% 9th grade students are considered overweight and 16.7% are obese.
Children in Chicago have higher overweight and obesity rates than the national rates for US children in the same age groups:
16.5% kindergarten students are considered overweight and 20% are obese.
19.5% 6th grade students are considered overweight and 29.2% are obese.
19.3% 9th grade students are considered overweight and 25.4% are obese.
Hispanic children are most likely among all racial and ethnic groups becoming overweight adults. In Chicago, child obesity rates in children of all ages were highest among Black and Hispanic communities for both boys and girls. [v]
Hispanic families are more likely to live in areas where access to healthy, affordable food is limited or nonexistent, with more than 10% of Hispanics reporting difficulty in accessing affordable fresh fruit and vegetables. The survey also showed that access to fresh produce was linked with an individuals’ level of health and wellness; challenges to access were four times greater among those reporting poor health than people reporting excellent health (20% vs. 5%).[vi]
- Counties with large Hispanic populations have a greater proportion of people identified as having low access to grocery stores (29%) compared to other counties (21%). This holds especially true for children and residents who are low-income.[i]
- In some under-resourced Chicago neighborhoods, childhood obesity rates exceed 50%. This is highlighted in the chart below, as the predominately white community in the sample (Norwood Park) had much lower obesity rates compared to other communities that are predominantly Black and Hispanic.[i]
The number of overweight and obese Hispanic school children in Chicago could fill Wrigley Field. According to 2011 statistics, roughly 42% of Hispanic kindergarteners, 55% of Hispanic 6th graders and 50% of Hispanic 9th graders are considered overweight or obese. On Tuesday, July 14 at the Guadalupano Family Center in Chicago, the Cigna Foundation took an unconventional step to help reverse this trend. The foundation brought the Hispanic Health Council (HHC) to Chicago to perform a series of puppet shows for the children in the community to teach them about nutrition. For more than a decade, the Programa para Aprender Nutrición y Alimentación (PANA Program) has provided culturally-relevant nutrition education in the form of puppet shows, jeopardy games and interactive educational sessions. The program educates children on diabetes prevention, food access, heart disease prevention, physical activity, food safety, and the five food groups.
About Cigna Foundation
Cigna believes that investing in the health of our communities directly connects with our overall success. The Cigna Foundation is an important part of that strategy. Established more than 50 years ago, in 1962, the Cigna Foundation carries out our corporate philanthropy goals of bringing Cigna’s mission and brand promise to life for individuals and communities around the globe. This is accomplished through strategically focused charitable grants to nonprofit organizations whose work enhances the health of individuals and families and the well-being of their communities.
‘Spreading the Health’: World of Difference Grants
In 2015, the Cigna Foundation’s World of Difference grant platform will focus on health equity, giving everyone the best opportunity to achieve a healthier, more secure life. We will work together with dedicated non-profit partners, and use the knowledge and expertise of Cigna’s professionals, to help people overcome barriers to their health and well-being related to factors such as ethnicity, race, gender, age, geography, or economics. http://www.cigna.com
About Hispanic Health Council
The mission of the Hispanic Health Council is to improve the health and social well-being of Latinos and other diverse communities. http://www.hispanichealth.com
[i] A.S. Singh et al., “Tracking of Childhood Overweight into Adulthood: A Systematic Review of the Literature,” Obesity Reviews 9 (2008): 474–488.
[ii] Markus Juonala et al., “Childhood Adiposity, Adult Adiposity, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors,” New England Journal of Medicine 265 (2011): 1876–85.
[iii] Qing He and Johan Karlberg, “Probability of Adult Overweight and Risk Change during the BMI Rebound Period,” Obesity Research 10 (2002): 135–140.
[v] Qing He and Johan Karlberg, “Probability of Adult Overweight and Risk Change during the BMI Rebound Period,” Obesity Research 10 (2002): 135–140.
[vi] Food Research and Action Center, A Half-Empty Plate: Fruit and Vegetable Affordability and Access Challenges in America (Washington, DC: Food Research and Action Center, 2011), http:// frac.org/pdf/half_empty_plate_dec2011.pdf
[vii] NCLR calculation using U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Food Environment Atlas,” http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ food-environment-atlas.aspx (accessed August 2014).