Youth Obesity Drops in King County For The First Time In Years

Feb 21, 2014

After years of flat rates, obesity among adolescents significantly dropped in King County between 2010 and 2012. Public health authorities credit prevention efforts at school.

A handful of school districts in the county made a special effort to push fitness. Some had students track their own nutrition, others invested in top-notch physical education programs or healthier lunch options. Federal stimulus money paid for the Communities Putting Prevention to Work programs.

And during the program’s two years, youth obesity finally declined in those districts, while staying more or less the same in the districts that didn’t participate. That led Jim Krieger, chief of chronic disease at Public Health Seattle and King County, to conclude the prevention programs are what helped.

“It makes us very optimistic and positive about the power of this kind of intervention,” Krieger said. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure it was going to work, because obesity is a really complex problem with many factors that contribute to it. So I think this is a really great first step.”

The interventions were targeted at districts that serve more low-income kids, and those which had disproportionately high obesity rates. They include Auburn, Highline, Kent, Northshore, Renton, Seattle and Tukwila.

The declines in just those school districts were enough to bring the whole county’s youth obesity rate down by 17 percent. Obesity in childhood is strongly linked to health problems later on.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the findings.