The Ohio Department of Health this week announced a plan to funnel $1 million toward a two-year childhood anti-obesity initiative.
Better late than never, to be sure, as estimates put the childhood obesity rate at more than 30 percent in Ohio. The closer one gets to Cleveland, the more that rate climbs toward 40 percent. That also puts Ohio in the No. 12 slot of U.S. states' childhood obesity.
The plan is to ramp up holistic efforts and activities aimed primarily at children from birth to age 5. In fact, the most successful plans, according to the Department of Health, target children who are not yet overweight. Early childhood education centers, health care systems and public health providers will be the arenas for this roll-out.
The whole thing also has an economic angle, of course: "Chronic disease and their risk factors - such as obesity - are estimated to cost Ohio nearly $60 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity," Dr. Ted Wymyslo, of the Ohio Department of Health, says. "Without significant change, these costs are projected to increase to nearly $100 billion by 2023."
Meanwhile, Cleveland is in the thick of a Case Western-led research study into the lives of 450 students from 50 Cleveland schools. Begun in 2010, the seven-year project will document the causes and effects of childhood health - both good and bad. Stay tuned as information from that study becomes public.
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