Tricia Hardy, Director of Child Wellness at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, speaks to the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 16, 2013. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

Childhood obesity in Georgia is a big problem, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Director Tricia Hardy said.

Hardy spoke to the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce on Monday morning and highlighted Children’s Strong4Life program. The statewide initiative is an effort to combat childhood obesity and its harmful effects.

“One million kids in Georgia are overweight and obese,” Hardy said.

She said kids are showing up to doctor’s offices with adult health problems, like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

“This generation is the first that is not expected to outlive their parents,” she said.

Childhood obesity is a topic of discussion around the country. Schools have implemented new nutrition guidelines and health assessments. She said physical fitness assessments in Georgia have shown disappointing results.

“Forty-three percent of Georgia’s kids fall outside a healthy weight range,” Hardy said. “Twenty percent of Georgia students can’t pass any of the five assessments; 16 percent can pass all five.”

By 2030, the obesity rate in Georgia could reach 53.6 percent, she said.

Hardy said the Strong4Life program is backed up by experts like doctors, nutritionists, exercise specialists and other professionals.

She said the program’s four main focus areas are:

  1. Communication and Public Awareness
  2. Community Programs
  3. Clinical Intervention
  4. Research and Policy

Hardy said policy changes can be difficult. Many improvements can start in the home she said, noting the campaign is targeted at parents so they can learn to set a good example for their children.

“Kids with both parents overweight have an 80 percent chance of becoming overweight themselves,” Hardy said.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com