Obesity drops among younger Mississippi students

By Jeff Amy/The Associated Press

RIDGELAND — Researchers say obesity rates are dropping among Mississippi elementary school students and leveling out overall — important milestones in keeping young people healthy.

But obesity rates are steady or rising among black students. And, schools’ efforts to reduce obesity are dropping, which could reflect pinched finances for public education.

The state’s elementary school students made the biggest strides. The share of overweight and obese children in kindergarten through fifth grade fell from 43.6 percent in 2007 to 37.3 percent in 2011. That drop is too big to be explained by statistical variation in the survey, meaning it shows real improvement.

The findings were discussed Monday at a conference evaluating 2007′s Mississippi Healthy Students Act, a state law meant to promote nutrition, exercise and health education.