In a report issued on Tuesday, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that childhood obesity has declined 43 percent in the past decade in the 2- to 5-year-old age group. While the news was good for toddlers, one-third of the rest of America remains overweight.
The news was seen as a victory in the White House for First Lady Michelle Obama and her “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity. Results show that the kids have been listening to the First Lady’s talks about nutrition and exercise. Figures released in the report show that among kids age two to five, the obesity rate dropped from 14 percent for 2003-2004 to 8 percent in 2011-2012.
There was also cause for celebration at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has dedicated $500 million to reverse the trend of child obesity in America. On their website, RJWF president and CEO Dr.Risa Lavizzo-Mourey said it was a “big day” for children’s health, adding that progress with kids is especially vital because the good habits they learn now will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle into adulthood.
As childhood obesity in the age group 2-5 has declined in the past decade, the news is neither good nor bad for the rest of the nation. The CDC research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that overall there has been no significant change in obesity rates of youth or adults in the past decade. The most significant increase of any group came in women age 60 and older, where obesity rates went from 31.5 percent in 2003-2004 to 38.1 percent in 2011-2012.
Even though there was a significant decline in obesity for the youngest age group, the rate for all children, 2-19 years of age, remained flat at 17 percent. There was a slight decline for children ages 6-11, from 18.8 percent obese in 2003-2004 to 17.7 percent in 2011-2012. The largest jump in children’s obesity rates happened in the 12- to 19-year-old group, with an increase from 17.4 percent in 2003-2004 to 20.5 percent in the latest figures.
So there is still work to be done. If your child is in the 17 percent of American children who are obese, the solution is simple, according to Kennewick, Washington pediatrician Dr. Gary Podhaisky, F.A.A.P. “Make them go out and do something physical, and get them away from the screen.” In other words, shut off the TV, the computer, the video games and their phone and make sure they engage in some type activity. Podhaisky was pleasantly surprised at the news of the decline in childhood obesity during the last decade, but says he still doesn’t see the parental concern he would like to see. “There are more parents who are willing to voice their concern about their child appearing to not eat enough” he said, “than there are parents who will admit that their child is obese.”
By Chuck Podhaisky