According to a study released Tuesday by the New Mexico Department of Health, 15 percent of kindergarten students were found to be obese in 2011 and more than 21 percent of third graders were obese, El Paso television station KTSM News Channel 9 reported.
The study, titled “The Weight of Our Children: 2011 New Mexico Childhood Obesity Report,” (pdf download) used data from 28 schools around New Mexico, KOB-TV in Albuquerque reported.
When adding in overweight New Mexico students, the combined percentage of overweight and obese children was found to be 38.6 percent for third graders and 30.5 percent for kindergartners, according to the study.
By the third grade a greater proportion of children were obese than overweight, and less than 3 percent of the students in either grade were classified as underweight, the study said.
The numbers were about the same for 2011 as in 2010, according to the KOB-TV report.
Health officials said the problem is most serious for Native American children since nearly half of Native American third graders were overweight and more than 35 percent obese, Eyewitness News 4 reported.
The report showed that more than 39 percent of Hispanic third graders were overweight or obese and more than 26 percent of white, non-Hispanic third graders were overweight or obese, KOB-TV said.
“Obesity at a young age can have a very serious effect on the overall health of children and can lead to other negative health conditions later in life such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes,” state Health Secretary Dr. Catherine Torres told KTSM. “This report should be a call to action for families, schools, communities and the state to help children at younger ages develop healthy eating and active living behaviors and to create the environmental and policy changes to promote these behaviors.”