Exercise campaigns and health eating may be paying off for the children of America.
For the first time in at least a decade, obesity rates among younger children appear to be on the decline, according to a new study. New federal data posted recently indicated a 43 percent decline in obesity rates for children ages 2 to 5. The latest findings are encouraging for a nation that has been plagued with this long-term health problem.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that obesity rates for the young children dropped to 8.4 percent between 2011 and 2012. This is down from 13.9 percent from 2003 to 2004.
Although children ages 2 to 5 had the most significant decline in obesity rates, the study found that the rate dropped slightly for children ages 6 to 11, from 18.8 percent to 17.7 percent during the same period of time.
The CDC acknowledged that although the numbers show an improvement in obesity rates among young children, the exact reasons for the declining numbers are not yet known. The organization said in a statement that a number of child care centers are providing more exercise and healthier food overall. In addition, the CDC noted that the number of sugary beverages by young people has dropped, and that breast feeding rates have increased. Both of these factors may contribute to lower rates of obesity.
CDC Director Tom Frieden said, “We continue to see signs that, for some children in this country, the scales are tipping.” He notes, “This confirms that at least for kids, we can turn the tide and begin to reverse the obesity epidemic.”
Despite the fact that obesity rates have fallen for young children, the study suggests that obesity rates among teenagers have risen, and that rates among children and adults are still relatively high. Between 2011 and 2012, 16.9 percent of children ages 2 to 19 were obese, along with 34.9 percent of adults. In 2003 and 2004, obesity rates for children were 17.1 percent, and 32.2 percent among adults.