Minnesota scored the second-lowest youth obesity rate in the country, according to the "State of Childhood Obesity" report out this month from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Wisconsin, meanwhile, tied for the 28th highest obesity rate out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Here are three comparison points highlighting the differences between the Gopher and Badger states.
27K more obese kids
First off, the hard numbers: There are 27,100 more obese children ages 10-17 in Wisconsin than Minnesota, according to the report (80,300 in Wisconsin compared to 52,200 in Minnesota). Those figures equate to an obesity rate of 9.4% in Minnesota and 14.2% in Wisconsin.
The good news for both states is the obesity rates are lower than the national rate of 15.3%; however, Minnesota is doing much better, joining five other states earning the distinction of being “statistically significantly lower” than the national average.
Some improvements, but don’t call it a trend
The Wisconsin childhood obesity rate of 14.2% is a slight improvement from the rate of 14.6% recorded in 2016. The most recent report uses 2017-2018 data from the National Survey of Children’s Health with analysis conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
But, once again, Minnesota outshines its neighbor: The childhood obesity rate of 9.4% in Minnesota dropped from 13.4% during the same time span.
Though the report notes that no state had a “statistically significant” change, and more years of data are needed before trends can be found.
Part of the "State of Childhood Obesity" report is identifying policies in each state designed to prevent obesity. Here are some policy differences between Minnesota and Wisconsin:
Minnesota is among 26 states and the District of Columbia with regulations requiring licensed early childhood education programs to provide meals and snacks that meet dietary guidelines; Wisconsin is not.
Wisconsin is one of 29 states and the District of Columbia that limit screen time in early childhood education settings; here Minnesota is the outlier.
The Minnesota Legislature supports a statewide Safe Routes to School program to promote walking and biking. Some Wisconsin communities have Safe Routes to School programs, but there are no statewide statutes or regulations.
The full report can be viewed at www.stateofchildhoodobesity.org.