Education | Health | National

New Mexico reports high rate of obesity among Indian children

Students at a public elementary school on the Navajo Nation. Photo from Central Consolidated School District

Indian children in New Mexico suffer from the highest rates of obesity, according to a new state report.

Among kindergarten students, 23.5 percent of Indian children are considered obese, according to the 2014 update from the New Mexico Department of Health. The figure rises to 32.6 percent among Indian third-grade students.

When combined with data on overweight students, the picture looks even worse. Among kindergarteners, 37.4 percent of Indian students are considered obese or overweight, the report stated.

Among third graders, a whopping 52.8 percent of Indian students are considered obese or overweight. That means most Indian children in New Mexico are in danger of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and other health problems.

"In examining disparities across racial and ethnic groups by grade level, American Indian kindergarten and third grade students continue to have significantly higher obesity prevalence rates (23.5% and 32.6%, respectively) compared to Hispanic (11.8% and 20.2%) and White (6.7% and 10%) students," the report stated.

The report was based on health data collected on nearly 6,900 kindergarten and third grade students in 54 randomly-selected public elementary schools in the state.

Native Americans make up 10.4 percent of the state population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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