NIXA, Mo --  September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proves kids in the 'Show Me State' are making healthy improvements that are paying off.

A new study finds childhood obesity rates have gone down one percentage point or more in about 19 states across the nation, including Missouri.

The study looked closely at preschool age kids in low income families, and found the rates of obesity among kids in that demographic to be 12.9 percent state-wide. That number is down from 13.9 percent in 2008.

Experts say this negative trend could be the result of better education, more healthy options being readily available to kids, and a heavier emphasis on exercise.

Overall 31 percent of kids ages 10 - 17 are considered to be overweight, that number is slightly above the national average of 30 percent.

Physicians say reducing Missouri's childhood obesity rate even further is vital for the health and well being of future generations.

"Sometimes if you have a lot of extra weight on you it’s really hard for your body to utilize itself fully, sometimes you have knee pain. Some of the diseases that we take care of with asthma can be worsened with extra weight because it’s harder for you to breathe,” said Dr. Chris Spinelli D.O, Pediatrician at Ozarks Community Hospital in Springfield.

 Kids in the Nixa School district are on board with this move towards a more healthy lifestyle.
 School administrators say they've implemented fun new ways into their curriculum to get kids excited about eating right and keeping active.

"The students participated in Fear Food Factor where our food service provided an item to try that is a vegetable that maybe many students don’t care for so we want the kids trying new things that maybe they think they don’t like, and the funny thing is we actually ran out of brussels sprouts,” said  Dr. Kevin Kopp, Wellness Coordinator for the Nixa School District.

In Nixa they also have programs like Marathon Madness where students meet up to walk a few miles each week to add up to the length of a marathon by the end of the school year, and a Student Iron Chef competition. The school district is doing it's part locally to keep kids in the Ozarks healthy and reduce our states childhood obesity rates.