MCH Seeing Recent "Tremendous Increase" in Obese Kids

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY- More Odessa kids are tipping the scales than ever before.

"What we're seeing in this is a tremendous increase," Dr. Lawrence Voesack with Medical Center Hospital, said.

Childhood obesity is nothing new to the national spotlight. The Basin's seen an increase over the years. Yet recently, it's gotten out of hand.

"The number of children that are minimally overweight to being obese is on a radical climb," Dr. Voesack said.

The Health Department says it causes problems beyond tight-fitting clothes.

Gino Solla with the Ector County Health Department says, "It is a big concern for public health."

Doctors are seeing a jump in the number of kids with diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and even gallstones.

"We are now seeing a reverse where the younger generation that has diabetes and all of these chronic illnesses won't be there to take care of the older generations and they're going to be in a position where they're going to need to be taken care of," Solla said.

County health rankings released a few weeks ago show Ector County ranks 191 out of 221 statewide counties, making it one of the most unhealthy places to live in all of Texas. Over the past few years, the obesity rate has been climbing and has continued to be higher than the national average.

Dr. Voesack says, "When you're out and about town and you look at people [you see] we are a heavy population."

Our adults are getting larger and our kids are looking to them as role models.

"They become part of who we are, part of our culture and part of our personality," Solla said.

The Ector County Independent School District says they'll continue the implementation of mandatory PE class. They've got some other programs in place but say getting kids moving seems to be one of the better solutions.

Records show Ector County also consumes more fast food than both the state and the national average. With busy parents working to keep our economy booming, it's no wonder the drive through lines are long.

Solla adds, "It's human nature to move towards the easiest path until that path becomes the harder path and then we'll move in the opposite direction."