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Obesity rate decreases among preschoolers?


Although little is changing about the weight of most of our citizens, we may have made some progress combating the obesity epidemic among our preschoolers.


Although little is changing about the weight of most of our citizens, we may have made some progress combating the obesity epidemic among our preschoolers.

A recent investigation using data on 9,120 participants in the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) finds that the obesity rate among our nation’s children aged 2 to 5 years decreased 43% from 13.9% to 8.4% from the period 2003-2004 to 2011-2012.

However, not everyone agrees on the interpretation of the data. Asheley Skinner, PhD, from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, says that earlier NHANES data was an anomaly. She explains that obesity prevalence in the preschool age group was at 10% before and after the 2003-2004 analysis and that prevalence only fell significantly when comparing the 2 specific time periods.

Unfortunately, the rate of obesity in just about every other segment of the population either stayed the same or went up; currently more than one-third (34.9%) of adults, 8.1% of infants and toddlers, and 17% of 2- to 19-year-olds are obese.

If a decline in obesity among preschoolers really exists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the exact reasons for it are unclear. However, the CDC notes, many childcare centers have started to improve their nutrition and physical activity standards over the past few years; young people are consuming fewer sugar-sweetened beverages; and breastfeeding rates are improving, all of which help to keep children’s weight stable. First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign also seems to be making a difference.

Experts hope that if the decline in obesity among some of our youngest Americans is real, it will help them stave off such problems as cancer, heart disease, and stroke as they age by keeping them at a reasonable weight for life. Researchers agree that bad habits and obesity take hold by adolescence, so a changing trend in prepubescent children would be particularly encouraging.



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