Childhood Obesity Rates Continue to Drop

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Though obesity rates in the U.S. continue to hover at levels that healthcare professionals call epidemic, some good news is beginning to take shape for the future.

Last summer the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that many states throughout the country were seeing drops in the rates of childhood obesity for low-income children. That encouraging statistic is now part of a larger CDC report that reveals overall levels of childhood obesity are dropping significantly.

The new report, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), shows that obesity among children age two to five dropped to just 8% from 2011 to 2012. This represents a 43% drop from the nearly 14% of two- to five-year-olds that were considered obese from 2003 to 2004.

“We continue to see signs that, for some children in this country, the scales are tipping," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. "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. This confirms that at least for kids, we can turn the tide and begin to reverse the obesity epidemic.”

Though there are many hypotheses, no clear cause for the drop in childhood obesity can be parsed from the CDC's data. Turning to other indicators, the CDC suggests that increased nutritional and activity standards at day care facilities could be having a significant effect. In addition, the CDC points to its own data showing a marked decrease in sugary drink (sodas, juice, etc) consumption among children.

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