A study of Hartford pre-school students shows that many of the city's young are obese by the time they are four or five years old. The study by UConn's Center for Public Health and Health Policy shows that Hartford has roughly the same rates of preschool obesity as other U.S. cities. Seventeen percent of the children measured classified as overweight; 20 percent of them qualified as obese. Both rates, though, are significantly higher than national averages.
Ann Ferris is the UConn professor who ran the study. "Of greatest concern to me when I looked at the data were the number of children who were above the 99th percentile in height and weight. These are children who were just way above the normal trajectory...So, although Hartford Latino preschoolers had the highest rates of obesity, both African American and other ethnicities exceeded what was expected."
There is good news, though. About 73 percent of Hartford's pre-school age children are in formal preschools. That means the city has a good way to reach them and their parents and, hopefully, change their behaviors.
Mayor Pedro Segarra says it's now time for the city to strategize. "How do we use and how do we leverage our recreation facilities to develop activities for our younger population? How do we use our early learning centers to provide parent training on issues related to nutrition? How do we use our health department?" Segarra says the city needs a coherent and comprehensive intervention on behalf of its children.