Obesity In American Children Is On The Decline: CDC Report
February 26, 2014

Obesity In American Children Is On The Decline: CDC Report

Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed evidence of a substantial decline in American obesity for children between the ages 2 and 5 years old.

Published in JAMA, the new report said the obesity rate fell from nearly 14 percent in 2003-2004 slightly more than 8 percent in 2011-2012, a drop of 43 percent.

“We continue to see signs that, for some children in this country, the scales are tipping,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “This report comes on the heels of previous CDC data that found a significant decline in obesity prevalence among low-income children aged 2 to 4 years participating in federal nutrition programs.”

“We’ve also seen signs from communities around the country with obesity prevention programs including Anchorage, Alaska, Philadelphia, New York City and King County, Washington,” Frieden continued. “This confirms that at least for kids, we can turn the tide and begin to reverse the obesity epidemic.”

For the study, researchers analyzed trends for childhood and adult obesity for over 9,100 persons with assessed weights and heights using the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

A standard gauge of obesity among infants and toddlers called “high weight for recumbent length” was 8.1 percent in the 2011-2012 edition of the survey, with boys at 5 percent and girls at 11.4 percent. For children 2 to 19 years old, nearly 32 percent were either overweight or obese, and 17 percent were obese. Among adults, over 68 percent were either overweight or obese, 35 percent were obese and 6.4 percent were considered extremely obese.

The CDC researchers did not see a change from 2003-2004 through 2011-2012 in high weight for recumbent length for infants and toddlers or in obesity in two- to 19-year-olds or adults. The incidence of obesity was greater in women age 60 years and older, from almost 32 percent to greater than 38 percent.

The CDC speculated that child care centers that have begun to boost their nutrition and exercise standards within the last few years may be behind the change. Furthermore, CDC information showed decreases in usage of sugary beverages among youth in the past few years. A different potential factor might be the growth in breastfeeding rates in the United States, which is helpful in preventing obesity.

“I am thrilled at the progress we’ve made over the last few years in obesity rates among our youngest Americans,” said first lady Michelle Obama, who has been a proponent of healthier American lifestyles through her many initiatives, such as “Lets Move!”

“With the participation of kids, parents, and communities in Let’s Move! these last four years, healthier habits are beginning to become the new norm,” she added.

Adult and childhood obesity have been the focus of a range of preventive health efforts in the US, including new polices implemented by the US Department of Agriculture for food packaging, funding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of localized initiatives and several reports and guidelines issued by numerous federal agencies.

Two articles published by the CDC authors in JAMA in 2012 indicated that the incidence of obesity plateaued between 2003 and 2004, as well as between 2009 and 2010, but "given the focus of public health efforts on obesity, surveillance of trends in obesity remains critical."