Diabetes Blogs

Is the Childhood Obesity Epidemic Starting to Shrink?

It sure does look that way.  No sharp decline, but hope is on the horizon.

According to Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), "Although obesity remains epidemic, the tide has begun to turn for some kids in some states.  While changes are small, for the first time in a generation, they are going in the right direction."

In a study conducted between 2008 and 2011, CDC researchers weighed and measured tots ages 2-4 in 40 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  There were 12 million kids in the study.  They were low-income participants in federally-funded maternal and child nutrition programs. 

Statistics were given by state:

  • Only three states (Colorado, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania) showed an increase
  • Nineteen of the 43 states and territories showed a decline in obesity rates. The biggest declines were in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Missouri, and South Dakota.
  • The rest were unchanged.

One in eight preschoolers is obese.  An obese child ages 3 to 5 is five times more likely than the average-weight child to become an obese adult,  who will most likely be burdened with medical complications. 

So what is going on?  Why the good news?

Here are some possibilities, according to the researchers:

  • More moms are nursing their babies.  This has been shown to help avoid obesity in kids.  In 2000, 71% nursed, in 2010 77% nursed.
  • Since 1999,  the amount of sugar-sweetened drinks consumed has declined.  Parents in these federal programs say they are more aware of good nutrition than they were previously.
  • Approximately 10,000 child care centers throught the nation have adopted the "Let's Move" fitness and nutrition program introduced by Michelle Obama.  The Department of Education and other government agencies have also adopted them.
  • Mothers and children enrolled in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program have been provided with more nutrition education.  Changes in  2009 eliminated fruit juice, lowered saturated fat and made other adjustments in infant packages. The program emphasizes fruit, veggies and low fat dairy.

"Many states have taken action to incorporate healthy eating and more activity," says Dr. Frieden.  "We should continue to help kids avoid obesity in the first place."  The CDC encourages local and state officials to join with business leaders, childcare providers, medical providers, and others for the effort.

Government programs such as these have received much criticism for being intrusive into people's lives.  Clearly, these federal efforts are positive.

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Image courtesy of imagemajestic, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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