About one in three Connecticut kindergartners and third graders are overweight or obese, and about one in seven are obese, according to a study by the state Department of Public Health.

The study found disparities by race and income, with 41 percent of black and 43 percent of Hispanic children considered overweight or obese, compared with 27 percent of white children. In addition, obesity rates were higher in schools in lower income communities, according to DPH.

The study was based on a sample of 74 elementary schools from 2010 to 2011.

Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen called the childhood obesity rate “alarming,” and noted that the condition is a risk factor for chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

“Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop these serious chronic diseases at earlier ages that lead to premature disability, early death, loss of productivity and decreased quality of life,” Mullen said in a statement. She added that parents, schools, communities and policymakers must work together to address obesity.

Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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