Everything is bigger in Texas, including the children.
A study released on Thursday by the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston has found that younger Texas children have a much higher rate of obesity than the national average.
Data collected from 6,000 students in the 4th, 8th and 11th grades across the state found that 22 percent in the 4th grade and 19 percent in the 8th grade were overweight, compared to about 15 percent nationally.
The state’s 11th graders were about the same as the rest of the nation.
All the figures were way above a national goal of 5 percent the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set for 2010.
Principal investigator Deanna Hoelscher said national studies she had seen found only Native American youngsters in some areas with higher obesity rates than young Texans.
While Texans like to boast about the grand scale of the Lone Star State and everything in it, “this is one place Texas definitely does not want to be bigger,” she said.
She said the study had not yet pinned down why Texas kids were more likely to be overweight, but the usual culprits of diet and lack of exercise were probably factors, Hoelscher said.
The study found that obesity was particularly prevalent among Hispanic and black kids, with the worst being Hispanic boys.
In the eighth grade, 33 percent of Hispanic boys were overweight, Hoelscher said.
White girls in the 11th grade were the thinnest, with only 5.5 percent considered fat.
The bad news, Hoelscher said, was that fat kids usually became fat adults.
“And the longer you’re overweight, the more likely you are to develop weight-related health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease,” she said.
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Tatiana Kuznetsova, D.M.D.