Minnesota has the nation’s second-lowest child obesity rate, according to a report published Wednesday by a national health advocacy organization.
Just over 9% of children ages 10-17 in Minnesota were obese in 2018, well below the national rate of 15.5%, according to the rankings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic group.
Tracking obesity rates is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation says, since obesity can put people at higher risk of serious illness from the virus. Plus, the economic downturn and school closures mean families may not have consistent access to nutritious meals or opportunities for exercise.
“Childhood obesity remains an epidemic in this country,” Jamie Bussel, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a written statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing economic recession have worsened many of the broader factors we know contribute to obesity, including poverty and health disparities.”
The report identified disparities by race and income level.
Nationwide, obesity rates were lowest among Asian children, at roughly 6%, and white children, at 11.7%. The rate is highest among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander youth, at nearly 40%; followed by Native American children, 28.5%; Black children, 23%; and Hispanic children, 20.7%.
More than 21% of youth in households that made less than the federal poverty level — $21,720 for a family of three — were obese, compared to nearly 9% of children in households making at least four times the poverty threshold.