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Childhood obesity triples in Brunswick County since 2007

While obesity rates are not increasing nationwide, they’re not decreasing either.  The picture is even bleaker on the local level.WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports that obesity in area children is undeniably on the rise.   

North Carolina has the fifth-highest childhood obesity rate in the nation.  In Brunswick County alone, obesity in children has tripled over the last five years.  That’s according to a Community Health Assessment recently conducted by Dosher Memorial Hospital. 

To Dr. Jugta Kahai, a pediatrician in Brunswick County, the problem is more complicated than simply counseling children and their parents on healthy eating habits.    

“The concerns are varied and the struggles are getting more intense from my perspective.  I see childhood obesity as morphing into something that’s gone from an abnormal state to one where it’s culturally now accepted in a lot of the communities.”

On her own time, Dr. Kahai teaches children to how to grow vegetables in the garden behind her pediatric practice.  She facilitates gym memberships through a nearby fitness center, and she’s collaborating with a local restaurant owner to teach parents fast and easy ways to cook healthy food.  But, says Dr. Kahai, the problem needs to be dealt with by the broader community.

I feel like we can all maybe pool together and say 'what can we do as a community to be a community that says -- hey kids -- we care about you and we want to make a difference and we will make a difference.  We’re going to pool our resources together to do this so you have healthier lives and you learn better things.'  And that’s what I what I would love to see in my lifetime while I’m here.” 

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 4 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.