U.S. Childhood Obesity Rates Fall 40% in Decade

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Study Shows the Obesity in Young Children Is Declining but on the Rise Among Teens.

More evidence is emerging that childhood obesity is turning a corner.

The rate of obesity in preschool-age children dropped about 40% over the past decade, according to data from a comprehensive federal survey published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association—the latest sign that attempts to help parents improve children’s diets and exercise habits might be starting to have an effect.

The prevalence of obesity among children ages 2 to 5 declined to 8.4% in the years 2011-2012 from 13.9% in 2003-2004, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate also dropped among children ages 6 to 11, though less significantly, to 17.7% from 18.8% over the same period.

While the precise reasons for the decline among 2- to 5-year-olds aren’t known, many child-care centers are offering more healthful food and more exercise, the CDC said in a statement. The CDC also cited a decline in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by young people and said an increase in breast-feeding rates also might play a role.

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

But it is too early to declare victory, the study warned. Obesity rates rose among teens, while overall they remain high among both adults and children, and have changed little over the past decade. In 2011-2012, 16.9% of children ages 2 to 19 and 34.9% of adults were obese. In 2003-2004 the rates were 17.1% among children and 32.2% among adults.

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