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Childhood obesity on decline, except here

SPRINGFIELD -- A new study finds, for the first time, the childhood obesity rate is dropping in almost half the states around the country, but Illinois isn't one of them.
SPRINGFIELD -- A new study finds, for the first time, the childhood obesity rate is dropping in almost half the states around the country, but Illinois isn't one of them. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels explains.

"It's sort of crept up on us over the years and now we have an 'epidemic' that is upon us."

She's talking about childhood obesity. The disease has taken a long time to get here and isn't going away any time soon.

"I think that there was sort of a lack of awareness overall of child heath issues."

That's why, all across the country, there are groups like Kemia Serraf's Gen-H Kids Coalition. Its focus is simple.

"We want our children and our families to eat real and move more."

It seems to be working. For the first time, some parts of the country are seeing fewer severely overweight children than ever before. But, Illinois is stuck at a plateau.

"It disappoints me."

Serraf says there's no good explanation for why, either.

"I think that nobody knows for sure."

She says the numbers do prove one thing, though, Illinois needs to work even harder. And it can be easy, if you start simple.

"We are encouraging schools and families to begin serving clean food, meaning it's prepared from scratch in your kitchen, you know the ingredients that went into it."

That's the philosophy already at working this Central Illinois school district. They make it all fresh every day. They say, it's a bit more work, but it's worth it in the long-run.

"This might be the best meal these kids get all day."

Otherwise, "the outcome will be a generation of children entering their adulthood whose health is compromised, who are suffering from a whole host of completely avoidable health problems, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease. So, we need to stop it now."

Experts say they expect Illinois to follow the downward trend within the next few years.
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