Alaskans Continue to Gain Pounds
But Anchorage School District sees decline in obesity
ANCHORAGE - Alaskans are getting fatter and fatter, according to state health officials.
“We’re not seeing any improvement at all, our prevalence in obesity and [those] overweight seems to climb at about 1 percent a year,” said Karol Fink, program manager for the state’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program.
According to a recent state report, in 1991, nearly 5 in 10 Alaskan adults were obese.
The problem has cost the state $465 million a year in medical costs.
“We don't feel like we're making any progress, because we'd hope to see a plateau and then a downward trend,” said Fink.
Extra pounds, health officials say they are aware of and are trying to shed by encouraging school districts to target children.
Here in Anchorage, they say that campaign is working.
Thirty-six percent, about 18,000 of local students, are overweight or obese – the lowest rate since 2003.
“If we can get a good handle on preventing childhood obesity, as those kids get older, they will age into the adult age group, and will bring down the prevalence,” said Fink.
Back in 2006, under then-Mayor Mark Begich's administration, the city designed a 10-year plan to fight obesity. Part of that plan was to create a task force.
Six years later, where are we?
Dr. Peter Mjos, a physician with Providence Medical Center, says he doesn't understand why the plan was shelved.
“This thing was a national award-winning program, one of the best developed in the U.S., and now it's just gathering dust,” he said.