The Missoula City-County Health Department is focused on preventing childhood obesity. ‘Let’s Move! Missoula’ Coordinator Lisa Dworak says her program collected Body Mass Index data in an effort to better understand the local childhood obesity rates.

“We go around to all the schools in Missoula and then outside of MCPS, our county rural schools and measure these children,” said Dworak. “It is completely anonymous. We put all the information together and what we find is that Missoula has not escaped the childhood obesity epidemic. 23.5% of our third graders throughout the county are overweight or obese.”

According to Dworak, the difference between health and wealth plays a significant role when it comes to childhood obesity.

“In our higher income schools, 17% of third grade boys are overweight or obese if you look at the two highest income schools in Missoula County,” Dworak said. “In the two lowest, it is 44% of those third grade boys are overweight or obese. What we are seeing is a significant disparity when it comes to health and wealth.”

Dworak says it is not fair that children who live in low income households tend to be the unhealthiest.