Childhood obesity on the decline

August 13, 2013

Although the mechanisms are currently unclear, 19 states/territories in the United States managed to reduce their rates of childhood obesity among low-income preschoolers, according to a report from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

 

Although the mechanisms are currently unclear, 19 states/territories In the United States managed to reduce their rates of childhood obesity among low-income preschoolers, according to a report from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

The finding is encouraging given that childhood obesity, which has doubled in recent decades, increases the risk for adult obesity and for an abundance of other negative health consequences.

Using the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System (PedNSS), a state-based public health surveillance system that monitors the nutritional status of low-income children aged from birth to 4 years, researchers looked at information on almost 12 million low-income children between the ages of 2 and 4 years.

They found that during the period 2008 to 2011, 19 states/territories of those included in the research reported significant downward trends in obesity prevalence among their low-income preschoolers, with absolute decreases ranging from 0.3 to 2.6 percentage points and relative decreases ranging from 1.8% to 19.1%.

The largest decline occurred in the US Virgin Islands, where the rate dropped from 13.6% in 2008 to 11.0% in 2011. Five additional states-Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, and South Dakota-reported a decrease from 2008 to 2011 of ≥1 percentage point. Another 21 states/territories experienced no significant trend of any kind-a kind of “no news is good news.”

Only 3 states among those included in the study experienced a significant upward trend in childhood obesity during the period-Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Among those 3 states, the relative increase in prevalence ranged from 5.2% to 6.4%.

The researchers reported that in 2011 the prevalence of childhood obesity among the states/territories in the study ranged from 9.2% to 17.9%. Ten states/territories had an obesity prevalence ≥15%, with the highest prevalence in Puerto Rico at 17.9%. The lowest obesity prevalence was in Hawaii (9.2%).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obesity now affects 17% of all US children and adolescents, which is triple the rate of the last generation. 

 

 

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