Congresswoman Fudge Highlights Childhood Obesity Amongst Minority Communities

WASHINGTON, DC—Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) hosted a standing room only briefing to shed light on the issue of childhood obesity in minority and other underserved communities. The briefing, coming on the heels the House and Senate passing her bill to designate September as Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, featured a panel of experts who represent a range of civil rights and health care organizations. The audience also heard testimony from Salena Williams, a 15 year old constituent from Euclid, Ohio. Salena described her struggle to lose 45 pounds and conquer diabetes, a journey that took her from a hospital emergency room to wellness.

In her opening remarks, Congresswoman Fudge shared her views of childhood obesity as an epidemic with enormous health, economic, and civil rights implications. “We’re here to empower our communities, our parents, and our kids to be fit for life. We’re here to find real solutions to the barriers that prevent some kids from living healthy, long lives,” said Congresswoman Fudge. “We’re here to put our heads together to end childhood obesity within a generation…We can’t afford to wait. Our children and future generations need our leadership to bring about change.”

The facts on how childhood obesity affects minority communities are striking. The Congresswoman cited the following statistics during the panel:

•Among America’s high school students, 34 percent of Latinos are overweight or obese. For Black students the rate stands at 36 percent.

•Obesity rates also appear to have some relationship with poverty rates in many states. Six of the states with the highest poverty rates are also in the top 10 states with the highest obesity rates. Many of the states with the lowest poverty rates are among the states with the lowest rates of obesity.

•14.8 percent of Children ages 2-5 from low income families are obese compared with 12.4 percent of all U.S. children of similar age.

• The highest childhood obesity rates are among American Indian and Alaska Native children (20.2%) and Latino children (18.3%).

•According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime if current trends continue. For minority kids, nearly one in two will develop diabetes.

As one of Congresswoman Fudge’s top priorities, Congresswoman Fudge will continue to sponsor relevant legislation to address these startling statistics.