The U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released its newest Vital Signs report on childhood obesity. Despite the high numbers of American children who are obese, the agency was able to show that many states have falling obesity rates for low-income children between the ages of three and five.
“Although obesity remains epidemic, the tide has begun to turn for some kids in some states,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. “While the changes are small, for the first time in a generation they are going in the right direction. Obesity in early childhood increases the risk of serious health problems for life.”
The CDC found that 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands saw decreases in their childhood obesity rates from 2008 to 2011. Florida, Georgia, Missouri, new Jersey, South Dakota, and the Virgin Islands all saw their rates drop at lease one percentage point. Twenty other states maintained their rates of childhood obesity, and only three – Colorado, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania – saw increases in their rates.
The report looked at almost 12 million low-income children involved in U.S. maternal- and child-nutrition programs. Around one in every eight preschoolers was found to be obese.
The CDC is attributing the drop in childhood obesity rates in some states to healthy eating and active lifestyles for children. The agency is suggesting that local and state governments take action to promote healthy living for children. Some of the suggestions provided by the CDC include making healthy foods more affordable and available; providing more free drinking water in public areas; making school recreational facilities available after school hours or during the summer; and educating child care providers.
“Today’s announcement reaffirms my belief that together, we are making a real difference in helping kids across the country get a healthier start to life,” said Michelle Obama, First Lady of the U.S. “We know how essential it is to set our youngest children on a path towards a lifetime of healthy eating and physical activity, and more than 10,000 childcare programs participating in the Let’s Move! Child Care initiative are doing vitally important work on this front. Yet, while this announcement reflects important progress, we also know that there is tremendous work still to be done to support healthy futures for all our children.”
(Image courtesy Robert Lawton/Wikimedia Commons)