January 12, 2024

Florida counties score well in children's well-being, but obesity is a concern

Meghan Bowman writes:

"Overall, the state saw many improvements across the board in the Florida Policy Institute's 2023 Child Well-Being Index [emphasis added].

The index ranks each county on factors including economic well-being, education, health and community.

Reductions in child poverty, high school students using alcohol and drugs, and graduation rates improved. All but one factor stayed the same or got better.

The top issue found in the index was childhood obesity, said Kids Count director Norin Dollard.

"In urban and rural areas, there's not high-quality, accessible food for a lot of folks. They were much more sedentary, I think that we have been historically, so that plays into it," Dollard said.

Childhood obesity is one of the few factors in which the state did worse. Another was that fewer people got outside and were less active during the pandemic, Dollard said.

"We didn't do this index to pit counties against one another. Everybody wants to have a good ranking," Dollard said. "But our point is that the counties take a look at their ranking and look at what they invest in kids and communities and consider if they're investing enough or looking for opportunities to invest more.""


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