Obesity rate falls in 19 states for low-income preschoolers | MSNBC

How heavy can one country get? Until recently, the sky seemed the limit. If recent trends continued, government researchers warned in 2008, some 86% of U.S. adults would be overweight or obese by 2030, and a third of our kids would be fully obese by the time they turned 20.

But the fever may finally be breaking. A wisp of good news came from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which announced Tuesday that obesity rates have recently declined among low-income children in 19 states and territories.  “While the changes are small,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in announcing the new findings, “for the first time in a generation they are going in the right direction.”

The new study isn’t definitive, but it suggests that conditions are improving even for the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable children.

The CDC researchers reviewed height-and-weight records for 12 million preschoolers who participated in WIC and other nutrition-assistance programs. Their analysis covered 43 states and territories, and it yielded good news for nearly all of them. Obesity rates either fell or held steady in 40 of the 43 jurisdictions after rising steadily in recent decades. Only three states—Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee—saw upward trends from 2008 to 2011, and those increases were all minor.

Nationally, about 13% of preschoolers are overweight or obese, but the risk is still significantly higher among kids who are poor enough to qualify for nutrition assistance. In California, for example, 16.8% of the enrollees were obese in 2011, despite a significant three-year decline (the 2008 figure was 17.3%). New Jersey and Massachusetts still hover at similar levels (16.6% and 16.4% respectively), despite similar reductions in recent years.

Puerto Rico’s low-income kids had the highest obesity rate of any state or territory (17.9% in 2011), but the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands saw the steepest three-year decline (from 13.6% to 11%).

Child obesity progress (CDC 08-13 map)

What accounts for all these encouraging trends? The study didn’t identify causes, but health authorities believe that public policy and public awareness have both helped. “Many of the states in which we’re seeing declines have taken action to incorporate healthy eating and active living into children’s lives,” says Janet L. Collins, director of the CDC’s obesity division.

Specifically, the CDC points to growing community efforts to make nutritious food affordable and accessible and ensure that all kids have safe places to play. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Child Care initiative has probably helped too, with 10,000 child care programs now embracing its prevention strategies.

“I think the main reason [rates are falling] is that people are rallying together as stakeholders in this battle,” Dr. Lindy Christine Fenlason of Vanderbilt University told NBC News Tuesday morning. “We’re talking about teachers and parents and caregivers, those in the media, those in government, and those in the medical profession. Everyone has come around to support people in making changes to have a healthy weight.”

That’s not to say the epidemic is anywhere near over. Obesity still affects 12.5 million children and teens in this country, and the potential consequences are devastating, ranging from arthritis and sleep apnea to heart disease, diabetes, stroke and several cancers. But the latest findings show that progress really is possible.

Are we really making headway with childhood obesity?


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(NaturalNews) The “fall” in obesity rates among low-income, preschool-aged children in the United States from 2008-2011 that was recently reported by the CDC is making headlines, and Michelle Obama is taking credit, but have we really made any progress?

The decline may be considered scientifically significant, but in reality, not much has changed. The “significant downtrend,” as the CDC calls it, is barely more than one percentage point in most cases. In only five states (Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey and South Dakota) and the U.S. Virgin Islands did obesity decline by more than or equal to 1%. Only three of these states saw a decrease that was more than 1%. Here are the percentage rates for the absolute decrease in obesity prevalence from 2008 to 2013 in the states that saw a decline:

Florida: 14.1 to 13.1
Georgia: 14.8 to 13.2
Missouri: 13.9 to 12.9
New Jersey: 17.9 to 16.6
South Dakota: 16.2 to 15.2

Only in the U.S. Virgin Islands does the decrease seem significant enough to be considered progress. Their rate fell from 13.6% in 2008 to 11.0% in 2011. And what about the other states and territories? In 21 states and territories the rates remained the same, and three states, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, even saw an increase in obesity rates! As the director of the CDC, Tom Frieden, told reporters, “It’s encouraging news but we’re very, very far from being out of the woods.”

Many states and territories experienced a fluctuation in rates in the years tested. For example, Puerto Rico’s rates have not been declining steadily. They began in 2008 with a rate of 17.9%, spiked to 18.1% and 18.3% in 2009 and 2010 respectively and finished back where they started at 17.9%, hardly much progress. Other states have followed similar patterns, according to the CDC study. And, of course, no results have been released about 2011 and 2012.

One in eight preschoolers in the United States is obese; among low-income children, it is one in seven. About one in five black children and one in six Hispanic children between the ages of 2 and 5 are obese. We should not rest on our laurels by any means. As CDC Director Tom Frieden put it, “The fight is far from over.”

Given the health risks associated with obesity, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and other chronic illnesses, American parents need to take weight gain in children very seriously. Neglecting to take action sets children up for a lifetime of disease, as children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are five times as likely as normal-weight children to be overweight or obese. Children do not purchase the food in their cabinets and refrigerators. Adults do. Preventing young children from becoming obese constitutes responsible parenting; allowing young children to become obese borders on abuse.

Instead, parents should encourage and model a healthy diet. As the Mayo Clinic’s website states, “One of the best strategies to reduce childhood obesity is to improve the diet and exercise habits of your entire family. Treating and preventing childhood obesity helps protect the health of your child now and in the future.” Cutting out processed and packaged foods and making half of a child’s plate fruits and vegetables, as the government website MyPlate.gov (formerly MyPyramid.gov) recommends, is a certainly a step in the right direction.

Sources for this article include:









About the author:
Jeff Hillenbrand and Hillary Feerick have been married for eighteen years and have two children, ages eight and nine. Jeff holds a BS in exercise physiology and nutrition. Hillary has been a teacher of writing and literature for twenty years and holds a BA and MA in English. Their combined expertise and experience raising healthy children prompted them to create a superhero that gets superpowers from fruits and veggies and solves mysteries at his elementary school. The Mitch Spinach Book Series has been featured across the country on numerous radio and television programs, and, according to NPR, “Mitch Spinach is to nutrition what Harry Potter is to wizardry.”

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Are we really making headway with childhood obesity?

Can Bacteria Fight Obesity? Gut Bacteria From Thin Humans Can …


Why are some people fat? It’s not just a question that fat people ask themselves, but also one that drives much medical research because obesity increases the risk of serious illnesses including heart disease and diabetes.

A study recently published in Science adds gut bacteria to the list of possible causes of obesity.

The intestine is home to trillions of microbes that help the body break down and use food. The particulars of the mix have been found to vary significantly from person to person, even among identical twins.

Gordon-RidauraGordon-RidauraIn an effort to isolate the contribution of gut bacteria to weight, researchers led by Jeffrey Gordon, of Washington University in St. Louis took the bacteria from pairs of identical and fraternal twins, each with one obese twin and one lean, and put it in previously germ-free cloned mice. (We glossed tastefully over the matter of the fecal transplant.)

The results indicate that bacteria does in fact play a powerful role: The mouse that got the obese twin’s bacteria grew fat and developed metabolic problems linked to insulin resistance, even when fed only low-fat mouse chow.

The researchers then housed the fat and thin mice together, allowing their gut bacteria to mix. (Mice housed in the same cage typically eat each other’s droppings.) The thin bacteria beat out the fat bacteria in the obese mice, and they became thin again.

So is obesity purely a question of gut bacteria? No such luck. The “thin” bacteria, specifically a group called Bacteroidetes, was only able to triumph when the fat mice were eating low-fat mouse chow. When they were fed a higher-fat food meant to mimic a typical American diet, obese mice kept the obese twin’s gut bacteria — and the excess weight.

Bacteroides biacutisBacteroides biacutis

Bacteroides biacutis

“Eating a healthy diet encourages microbes associated with leanness to quickly become incorporated into the gut. But a diet high in saturated fat and low in fruits and vegetables thwarts the invasion of microbes associated with leanness. This is important as we look to develop next-generation probiotics as a treatment for obesity,” said Gordon.

It can’t be long before we see Bacteroidetes and other potentially thinning “probiotics” for sale in the supermarket next to green tea.

But, buyer beware, the mouse studies are far from conclusive. The next step for Gordon and his team will be growing microbes in the lab and mixing them to nail down which combinations have which metabolic effects.

“There’s intense interest in identifying microbes that could be used to treat diseases,” he said.

Especially diseases that make us fat.

Photos: Lexicon Genetics Incorporated via Wikimedia Commons; Gordon with graduate student and co-author Vanessa Ridaura, E. Holland Durando, Washington University of St. Louis; CDC via Wikimedia Commons

Childhood Obesity Rates Drop Slightly: CDC – WebMD

Childhood Obesity Rates Drop Slightly: CDC

And fracture risk doesn't rise when physical

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) — There was a small but sure sign Tuesday that the fight against childhood obesity may yet be won: A new government report found that obesity rates among low-income preschoolers had declined slightly in at least 19 states.

After decades of increases, the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, South Dakota, and the U.S. Virgin Islands saw at least a 1 percent decrease in their rate of obesity from 2008 through 2011. Rates in 20 states and Puerto Rico held steady, while rates increased slightly in three other states: Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

“For the first time in a generation, we are seeing obesity go in the right direction in 2- to 4-year-olds, and we are seeing it happen across the country,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said during a noon press conference.

“It’s encouraging, but we have a lot further to go,” he added. “We hope this is the start of a trend getting us back into balance.”

Frieden credited the trend to such efforts as First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program and better policies in the government’s Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC) program, as well as increases in breast-feeding, recognition that children need to be active and eating a more healthful diet by reducing things like juices and increasing consumption of whole fruits and vegetables, and also decreasing time in front of the TV or computer.

“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,” Michelle Obama said in a CDC news release.

She added, “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 child-care 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.”

Earlier research found that about one in eight preschoolers is obese, Frieden said. In addition, children are “five times more likely to be overweight or obese as an adult if they are overweight or obese between the ages of 3 and 5 years,” he noted.

For the report, which covered 40 states (but not Texas), the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, CDC researchers looked at weight and height for nearly 12 million children aged 2 to 4 who took part in federally funded maternal and child nutrition programs.

Obese Preschooler Numbers Declining in Some States, Says CDC …

Obese Preschooler Numbers Declining in Some States, Says CDC

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.

CDC childhood obesity map

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)

"The Most Serious Health Problem in the U.S. Today is Obesity," as …

“The most serious health problem in the U.S. today is obesity.”
The all-too-familiar sentence started an article about obesity in America
that would fit right at home right now … except it was actually written
60 years ago.

In 1954, LIFE Magazine featured an article titled “The Plague of
Overweight,” in which they followed the journey of a woman named
Dorothy Bradley who struggled with overeating and body-image issues that
many of us can relate to today.

Ben Cosgrove of LIFE wrote in this blog post:

“Some five million Americans,” LIFE wrote [back in 1954], “medically
considered ‘obese,’ weigh at least 20% more than normal and, as a result,
have a mortality rate one-and-a-half times higher than their neighbors….
Another 20 million Americans are classed by doctors and insurance men
as overweight (10% above normal) and are drastically prone to diabetes,
gallstones, hernia, kidney and bladder impairments and complications
during surgery and pregnancy.”

Today the numbers cited by LIFE have ballooned to even more appalling
proportions: according to the CDC, “more than a third of U.S. adults
(35.7%) and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents
aged 2 – 19 years are obese.”

But perhaps the most astonishing and troubling statistic about obesity
in the USA relates to the speed with which this affliction has taken
hold: for example, in 2010 (again according to the CDC), “there were
12 states with an obesity prevalence of 30%. In 2000, no state had an
obesity prevalence of 30% or more.” Feel free to read that again — and
try to imagine the toll those millions upon millions of extra pounds
will have on the health of those men, women and children, and on the
nation’s economy.

Read the rest over at LIFE: Link

Obesity In The U.S., Visualized | Popular Science

Inspired by a recent decision from the American Medical Association to start recognizing obesity as a disease, designer Lih Chen created this infographic, mapping the problem state by state.

Quick note for context: the size of the pie charts over each state only indicate the total population size; California and New York aren’t trouncing every other state in obesity. The pie charts themselves are broken down by “obese,” in purple; “overweight,” in orange; and “normal,” in blue, determined through data culled from the CDC and census. For those states where the pie chart is too small to read, the bar charts at the bottom show the same distribution, but not plotted by total population, only by proportion.

This shows the data from 2011, when the least obese state was Colorado and the most obese was Alabama. But Chen has posted an interactive version showing rates from 1995 to 2011, which you can check out here.

[PaperShack via visual.ly]

Look How Quickly the U.S. Got Fat

Watch this CDC map change from 1985 to 2010 -and get more colorful along the way. It shows the percentage of people medically defined as obese. Obesity was once an odd condition, but for the U.S. it just gets more common every year. The Atlantic has a list of the metropolitan areas that have the lowest and highest rates of obesity. Moving to Colorado will only help if you are willing to climb mountains, hike, and ski. Link