BUFFALO, NY — Gov. Cuomo signs into law legislation that will allow doctors to do a "diabetes risk assessment" on students during their school health exams.
Experts say this is a way to further address the obesity crisis among young people.
"It's a huge problem having children that are being diagnosed with diabetes primarily because they're not getting the activity they need not having the proper nutrition," said Dan Stapleton, the public health director for Niagara County.
State health data says a third of New York state children are obese or overweight. In WNY, we looked up a few school districts to see what their obesity rate is. In Buffalo Schools -- 19 percent of students are obese. In Lockport -- 18 percent. And in Springville Schools -- more than a quarter of students (27 percent) are considered overweight.
"These types of things are very serious because it not only leads to problems now but it's leading to long term chronic problems," Stapleton said.
This week, Cuomo signed into law, a bill that's intended to better educate students and parents about their children's health — allowing doctors during student health exams to do a "diabetes risk analysis" if the child is at risk for diabetes — by being overweight or being related to someone with Type 2 diabetes.
When students start school and when students start the 2nd, 4th, 7th and 10th grades, they are required to have a health exam. But this does not apply to students in Buffalo.
"I think it'll increase awareness I have no doubt that this will happen," Stapleton said.
We spoke to Assembly Member Michael Kearns, who voted for the bill.
REPORTER: It appears this law will not go into effect until two years from now, so 2019, why is that the case?
"We need to collect this data and we have to prepare the school districts," Kearns said, "giving them time, two years, at least gives them an opportunity to prepare and it helps gather that information."
REPORTER: Why is this something that is optional and not mandated?
"Well we want to start it we want people to participate and you don't want to mandate something we still live in a free country here," Kearns said.The law also urges, two years from now, that districts create "nutrition advisory committees" that would study and make recommendations on ways to improve nutrition policies in their respective school districts.