HealthBeat

HealthBeat

Obesity rate drops among young children

The number of obese American preschoolers is dropping.

The obesity rate for children ages 2 to 5 has dropped 43 percent in the last decade, according to the latest data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity prevalence among that age group dropped from nearly 14 percent in 2003-04 to about 8 percent in 2011-12. The numbers are based on the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which also shows obesity rates among that age group were above 12 percent in 2009-10.

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

The exact reasons for the obesity decline isn’t clear, but many child care centers have improved their nutrition and physical activity standards over the last few years, according to the CDC.

In addition, CDC data shows decreases in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among youth and increasing breastfeeding rates, which can help stave off obesity in breastfed children, according to the CDC.

The CDC data did not indicate any significant changes in obesity prevalence among older children or adults in the U.S.

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

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