According to the 2012 Childhood Obesity Update, nearly 15% of kindergarten students and 22% of third graders are obese.
It's the third year data has been collected, and New Mexico's numbers appear to be leveling off, which is consistent with national trends. However, access to healthy food and adopting healthy behaviors, remain a significant problem for the state, especially in rural and frontier areas.
Rita Condon works with the Health Kids program at the New Mexico Department of Health. She says while numbers are high, there's significantly more Native American children experiencing childhood obesity than any other racial or ethnic group.
“Basically 30% of American Indian third grade students were obese compared to almost 23% of hispanic students and 15% of white, non-hispanic third grade students,” says Condon. “In third grade, one in two American Indian children are either overweight or obese.”
Condon says with childhood obesity occurring in younger age groups, it could lead to serious health problems for the population as it gets older.