South Carolina’s Childhood Obesity Rate Is Soaring

Palmetto State ranks third nationally on latest rankings …

Nearly one out of every four South Carolina children is obese, an epidemic that has worsened considerably over the past three years despite a host of government-funded campaigns aimed at keeping these number down.

In fact, the Palmetto State has seen its position compared to other states deteriorate significantly over that time period – a troubling public health indicator for the present and the future.

According to the latest data analyzed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 22.1 percent of Palmetto State children between the ages of ten and seventeen were obese in 2019 – which was well above the national childhood obesity rate of 15.5 percent.

South Carolina ranked No. 3 nationally on this metric, according to the report – trailing only Kentucky (23.8 percent) and Mississippi (22.3 percent). It was also one of only five states which the foundation determined had a childhood obesity rate that was “statistically significantly higher” than the national rate.

As alarming as that outcome is, the trajectory is even worse.

Two years before – in 2017 – only 15.4 percent of South Carolina children between the ages of 10-17 were recorded as obese. That year the Palmetto State ranked No. 24 nationally.

The data used in the report was obtained from the most recent National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) – a document published annually by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The soaring childhood obesity numbers come despite the implementation of a costly, top-down government “war on fat” initiated by the administration of former governor Nikki Haley in 2014.

That program was supposed to “educate, engage, and mobilize partners to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for South Carolinians.”

“For too long South Carolina has led the country in hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease,” Dr. Janice Key of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) said in announcing the initiative. “This strategic plan will change that by unifying our efforts to target the underlying cause of these diseases, obesity. We will no longer simply react to statistics about the bad health of South Carolinians, but we will reduce and prevent these diseases by promoting healthy lifestyles in our health care systems, our schools, our businesses, and our communities.”

Unfortunately, like most government-run campaigns in South Carolina, this one failed to achieve its objectives. In fact, things have gotten worse since it was implemented.




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