Obesity Rate for Young Children Nearly Cut in Half during Past Decade

Thursday, February 27, 2014
(photo: Scott Sinkler, Sundance Institute, AP)

Obesity among young children, which has been a major concern of health officials in recent years, has declined significantly, according to a new federal survey.


The data showed the obesity rate for children 2 to 5 years old had fallen 43% over the past decade.


In 2004, 14% of the 2-5 age group was obese, according to the study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.


By 2012, the rate had dipped to 8%.


Cynthia L. Ogden, a researcher for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the lead author of the report, called the news “exciting.”


“This is the first time we’ve seen any indication of any significant decrease in any group,” Ogden told The New York Times.


The change was particularly important because of the age group, as research has shown that kids 3 to 5 years old who are overweight or obese are five times more likely to be overweight or obese as adults.


But outside this cohort, the obesity news was still grim.


About 30% of all American adults are still obese, along with 17% of youths, researchers found.


Also, the number of women over 60 who are severely overweight went up.


Officials could not explain why more young children are carrying less weight now. Some point to a drop in soft drink consumption since 1999, while others credit an increase in breast-feeding by mothers.


Barry M. Popkin, a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying consumer food purchases, told the Times that families with children have been purchasing lower-calorie foods over the past decade, which might also explain the dip in obesity.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade (by Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times)

Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012 (by Cynthia L. Ogden, PhD1, Margaret D. Carroll, MSPH, Brian K. Kit, MD, MPH, and Katherine M. Flegal, PhD; Journal of the American Medical Association) (abstract)

Lack of Exercise Blamed in Income Disparity of Childhood Obesity (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Cuts in Phys Ed Take Toll: Only One-Third of California Students Are Fit (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Major Study Connects Plastic Packaging with Childhood Obesity (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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