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Childhood Obesity Focus of Wilmington Summit


Healthcare providers, policy makers, and parents are gathering for a Childhood Obesity Summit tomorrow in Wilmington.

WHQR’s Michelle Bliss reports that North Carolina is the tenth fattest state in the country.

North Carolina’s obesity rate is nearly 28 percent. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jonathan Kotch, a professor of children’s environmental health at UNC Chapel Hill, will be speaking at the summit, offering everyday strategies to child care centers for improving diet and exercise among 3-5 year olds.

“Shifting away from refined grain products to whole grain products, shifting from sugar-sweetened beverages to beverages that are not sugar-sweetened, switching from full fat milk to low fat or non-fat milk—those are the kinds of dietary changes we would like to see.”

As for physical activity, Kotch will discuss strategies to increase outdoor play and limit screen time in front of the TV and computer.

Kotch emphasizes that obesity must be tackled in early childhood because the problem is much harder to reverse as kids grow up. 

"We know that there are a number of health problems associated with being overweight or obese such as asthma for example, sleep apnea, diabetes and hypertension. These things can happen during early childhood, and if we don't prevent it early, then we miss an opportunity."

He says that obese kids are much more likely to remain heavy as adults and suffer compounded ailments, including heart disease.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? If so, we'd like to hear from you. Please email the WHQR News Team.

After growing up in Woodbridge, Virginia, Michelle attended Virginia Tech before moving to Wilmington to complete her Master in Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. Her reporting and nonfiction writing have been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, within the pages of Wrightsville Beach Magazine, and in literary journals like River Teeth and Ninth Letter. Before moving to Wilmington, Michelle served as the general manager for WUVT, a community radio station in Blacksburg, Virginia. She lives with her husband Scott and their pups, Katie, Cooper, and Mosey.