Merced County has a childhood obesity problem. Want to do something about it?

Data shows children in Merced County are three times more likely to be obese than the average California kid.

Also, one out of every four children between the ages of 5 and 12 in Merced County are obese, according to a 2016 assessment.

Childhood obesity issues can compound health problems and lead to serious health problems later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Those include Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, breathing disorders, sexual dysfunctions and metabolic syndrome, along with psychological effects including depression, social isolation and lower work achievement.

Why are Merced County’s kids more vulnerable than other California children? And what can Merced County parents do to give their children the best chance at a healthy future?

The Merced Sun-Star, in partnership with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, will be researching and reporting on these health issues in the next couple months. And we would like to get your perspectives on these important issues.

Should we look toward kids’ diets? Are we feeding them too much sugary, fatty or carbohydrate-dense foods? Should we give up on processed foods?

Do kids need more physical activity? Are there enough spaces and resources for them to play?

We’ve created a forum for parents, researchers, educators, experts and those who’ve faced weight issues as kids to discuss the issues of childhood obesity and overweight children.

Are you concerned about your child’s weight? What challenges do kids face with diet and exercise? How do kids’ perceptions of weight affect their daily lives?

We also plan to take a look at the sources of food, and whether improvements can be made in diet and exercise.

How can you help?

Join us in our Facebook group, Tipping the Scale: Merced County’s Childhood Obesity Crisis. The Merced Sun-Star created this group as a way to unite people who are concerned with this issue that affects the whole community.