Preschoolers in NYC, LA show gains in weight loss

January 23, 2013

New evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that prevalence of obesity has leveled and even declined among low-income, preschool-aged children in New York City (NYC) and Los Angeles (LA) County, California, although other US regions are still experiencing increases.

New evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that prevalence of obesity has leveled and even declined among low-income, preschool-aged children in New York City (NYC) and Los Angeles (LA) County, California, although other US regions are still experiencing increases.

The CDC report compared obesity prevalence among children aged 3 and 4 years who were enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in both cities from 2003 to 2011. In NYC, obesity prevalence decreased from 18.9% for children aged 3 years and 19.9% for children aged 4 years in 2003 to 14.5% and 16.9%, respectively, in 2011. In LA County, prevalence increased from 16.3% for children aged 3 years and 17.2% for children aged 4 years in 2003 to 21.0% and 22.1%, respectively, in 2008 before decreasing from 21.0% and 22.4%, respectively, in 2009 to 20.5% and 20.3%, respectively, in 2011.

From 2003 to 2011, prevalence of obesity decreased among blacks, whites, and Hispanics but increased among Asian children. Hispanic children enrolled in WIC showed the greatest prevalence for all years in both city areas.

New York City and Los Angeles County were selected for the study because they have the largest populations of WIC participants and feature different climates, unique policy environments, and readily available anthropomorphic data for children in this age group. Both height and weight of WIC participants are measured every 6 months according to WIC standard protocols or at physicians’ offices within 60 days of WIC certification. The data are entered into statewide information systems.

Researchers note that the differences in prevalence corroborate with recently noted geographic variations in the epidemiology of childhood obesity in the United States. Their study supports the need for investigation into the roles of demographics and environments in obesity prevalence and the effects of prevention policies targeted at specific populations of children.

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