bese children are much more likely to become obese adults, suffering long term health risks such as Type II Diabetes, heart problems, and some cancers (TDSHS 2009). These health care problems affect more than the individual, as the state also faces far-ranging economic and health care system impacts from these trends. Agencies and programs directed at correcting the problems of obesity in the state comprise a significant amount of the Department of State Health Services’ efforts and resources; analysis of the relative and potential successes of these measures likewise presents a valuable area for study.
Current state statistics reveal that over 15% of Texas high-schoolers are categorized as overweight, while over 13% were categorized as obese (TDSHS 2010). Furthermore, more than 20% of low income children enrolled in Texas’ Women Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition programs are overweight or obese. Statistics also show much higher rates of obesity for minority groups and those living below the poverty line. The Texas DSHS site also offers some graphs that show overweight and obese statistics by selected grades for overall regions. While these graphs are only for selected age cohorts, only show data by region, and are only available for 2004-5, cumulatively they indicate that the rate of obese and overweight school aged children tends to increase until 8th grade, after which point rates tend to decline. Rates of obese vs. overweight children in different age cohorts, however, seem to vary regionally.
Tracking statistical data of this sort over time can reveal some overall trends in childhood obesity in the state. First, while Texas already has higher rates of childhood obesity than the nation in general, these rates have steadily increased over time. Figure 1, compiled from TDSHS data, shows the changing percentages of overweight and obese children in Texas as compared to national averages. While Texas consistently shows higher rates of obesity in