Slimming Down School Children

September 23, 2005-- Posted at 10:45 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR-Two years ago the state of Arkansas started a new effort designed to slim down the high number of overweight school children. After two years, the percentage of students who are overweight or at risk is the same. 38% of students in Arkansas are overweight or at risk.

"I think what we are changing is a lifestyle we're not looking for a magic diet because i don't believe there is one, I think for a lifestyle change for the whole culture that's going take more than two years." said Mark Dobson, the physical education teacher at South Elementary.

So what kind of slimming lifestyle is it going to take to lower the  child obesity rate under 21 %? A combination of physical activity and a sensible diet.

With children one of the hardest things is finding new ways to keep kids interested in exercising.  Schools like South Elementary in Jonesboro have found exciting ways to exercise like having a climbing wall to keep kids active.

According to Dobson people are going to do what they enjoy doing. Whether that activity is a sport or just walking it helps if it is something you enjoy doing.

Having a consistant exercise plan is only half of the equation, a sensible diet is also crucial.

"Not just the students but some of us Americans as a whole our problem is portion sizes more so than what we eat, it's the amounts we eat," said Joan Holliday, Director of Food Services for Jonesboro Public Schools.

The school system is doing its' part to help control the problem but ultimately it starts at home.

"It has to be a lifestyle change and in order to get students to change, parents have to change and they have to change their lifestyle at home," said Dobson.