Arkansas to Modernize Childhood Obesity Data

SEPTEMBER 15, 2006 - Posted at 7:51 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Three years into the state's effort to track the number of overweight children, Arkansas' chief health officer told legislators yesterday that efforts are underway to improve the reporting of students' body mass.

Arkansas' surgeon general Joe Thompson says the state needs a system that makes it easier for school districts to report the body mass index of their students.

Thompson detailed the third-year results of a statewide survey of new body-mass index numbers used to assess childhood obesity.  Thompson released a report with a breakdown of how the state's school districts fared in the survey.

The percentage of Arkansas school children overweight or at risk of becoming overweight was 37.5 percent this year, down from 38.1 percent three years ago.  The most recent canvass covered 371,000 of Arkansas' 450,000 public school children.

Thompson said health officials plan to expand an online data entry system that will allow the information to be collected electronically and more quickly.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)