North Central Wis. Kids Top State Overweight Numbers

Specifically here in North Central Wisconsin, our kids have the highest percentage increase of overweight children.

According to the Department of Health Services, 17 percent of Wisconsin third-grade children are obese and one third of children are either overweight or obese.

The numbers may prompt some action for parents when it comes to eating habits.

That's exactly what Amanda Koopman decided to do after realizing fast food was making its way into every-day life too much.

Mother of three Amanda Koopman opened the fridge.

"For snacks, my kids really like string cheese so I started buying the fit and active string cheese."

Koopman opened the drawer.

"Here we've got berries, broccoli, tomatoes for salad, spinach, more broccoli, peppers carrots," Koopman said, "just a whole bunch of good stuff in here."

But now, she opens her family's minds to healthier eating after years of fast food.

"A few years back, if you would have asked me, we didn't eat fruits and vegetables," Koopman said. "We didn't eat anything (healthy). My kids are a little on the chubby side."

Koopman said she didn't realize her kids were putting on weight, and now she's on a mission not to be a part of Central Wisconsin's climbing numbers for overweight children.

According to the 2013 Wisconsin Department of Health Services report, our Northern Central Wisconsin region has the highest increase for overweight children, which is about 8 percent.

"I believe it," Koopman said "I know with us, it's been so cold this winter. So cold we haven't done a lot of things outside."

Whether parents believe it or not, that could be a reason for the increase as well.

According to a University of Nebraska-Lincoln study, half of parents with an overweight or obese child think their kids are slimmer than they actually are.

"You don't want to notice your kids. You think of them in a certain light," Koopman said. "You don't want to notice them being the kid who gets picked last on the team because they can't run."

But the study said once a parent's mind is open, and perception is corrected, they start taking action like Koopman.

"It should be a family affair," Koopman said.

Koopman said she looks to Pinterest for healthy ideas like grilled fish tacos, sweet potato chili and full menu plans.

Marjorie A Debevec Marksteiner, of the Behavioral Health Clinic of Wausau, said while it is important to help your kids learn healthy eating habits, it's just as important not to put too much pressure on the child to lose weight.

The numbers from the report also show that tooth decay is a significant problem in Wisconsin.

About 53 percent of Wisconsin third-grade children experience some sort of untreated tooth decay, according to the study.

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