A recent report shows childhood obesity in Missouri is increasing, and Missouri's rate is higher than the national average.
As we reported Monday, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's new report, "State of Childhood Obesity: Prioritizing Children's Health During the Pandemic" looks at national and state data on childhood obesity and offers policy recommendations to help prevent the problem.
This year's report shows among Missouri children ages 10-17, 16.3 percent are obese, compared to 12.7 percent two years ago. The national average is 15.5 percent.
No doubt, childhood obesity and, in turn, diabetes, are epidemics in the U.S.
But what role should government play in solving the problem?
The report suggests several government solutions, include more funding for food stamps.
Our state and federal government already have roles in addressing childhood obesity, as they should, but government's role should be limited.
Among other things, government should support nutrition education in public schools, and it should lead by example. Higher nutrition standards need to be set for any school meals that are taxpayer-funded.
The report also suggests poverty and health disparities contribute to obesity. We believe commitment and planning are bigger factors than poverty.
You can make a healthy meal for a family of four in a slow cooker that includes meat, potatoes and vegetables for around $10 — less than you'd pay at the drive-thru. It just takes planning to buy the ingredients and about 20 minutes to prepare them in the morning.
A healthy diet also takes commitment.
That's a struggle that boils down to personal, and parental, responsibility. Government can lead its people toward water, but it can't make them drink water instead of soda. That's a societal problem that transcends race or socioeconomic status.