Illinois is not winning the war on obesity, but there’s a measure of good news.
A 2014 screening of the oral health of the state’s third-graders also looked at body mass index. 17 percent were considered overweight and 19 percent were considered obese. That compares to 20 percent and 21 percent, respectively, in 2004.
Elissa Bassler, chief executive of the Illinois Public Health Institute and executive director of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity, says public health is not about, for example, pointing to some fat person and calling him or her out.
“We’re not talking about individuals. We’re talking about an overall group,” Bassler says. “We’re looking at lots and lots of third-graders, and we can predict that for many of those kids, they’ll grow up to be obese adults, they’ll grow up to have health problems, and they may be having health problems now.”