ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. - Obesity rates are climbing nationwide and on Delmarva, but a new study is shedding light on just how bad the epidemic really is- especially in Accomack County Public Schools. The study, conducted by the district under the direction of Eastern Virginia Medical School, found nearly half of the county's school children are carrying too much weight, compared with less than a third in the state of Virginia.
"I think it's awful," said John Gillespie of Oak Hall. "They should have more exercise in school. Parents should control what they feed them and not let their kids spend 12, 16 hours a day on the computer without getting up."
According to the study, 47 percent of children in Accomack County public schools are considered overweight or obese, in comparison to 31 percent statewide.
"I'm kind of surprised that it would be that high," noted Jane Starr of Melfa.
Fifth grade students were found to have the highest rate, at 52 percent, followed by 48 percent in the third grade.
"I guess with our lives being so busy from day to day, you know, a lot of the parents are working, we tend to go to a lot of fast food places," explained Patricia Harmon of Oak Hall.
But the huge disparity between the county and state may have more to do with the data. The county's public schools voluntarily took part in the study, calculating student's BMI by measuring height and weight.
"Currently, we're not mandated, we're not required to weigh students in school, which is really a shame because if students were to have H1N1 flu at the same rate you're seeing overweight and obesity in Accomack. You bet the Health Department would be in, giving shots as they have in the past," said Patti Kiger with Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Kiger said thanks to this study, baseline data is now available to measure outcomes of any steps taken to address this obesity problem.
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