Although news has come out that the obesity rate among children 2 years old to 5 years old has plummeted 43 percent, medical professionals have said that there has been no discernible change in the obesity rate for Americans in general in recent years.
Obesity has been termed an epidemic that can lead to increased risk of cancer and heart disease among people of all ages. The 43 percent drop was tracked by federal health authorities who noted that in 2004, there were 14 percent of children in the 2 to 5-year-old age bracket who were deemed obese. By 2012, this same age bracket was down to 8 percent, which accounted for the 43 percent drop.
It should be noted, however, that obesity rates overall continue to remain high, although it has become clear that children in the 2 to 5-year-old age group are gaining ground in the obesity battle. Women older than 60, however, appear to be losing ground; their obesity rate jumped 4 percent from 2004 to 2012. The Journal of the American Medical Association is recommending continued monitoring of the obesity problem that continues to plague Americans as a population.
One of the chief recommendations in helping prevent obesity among children is to encourage good habits, sooner rather than later, as children who are obese have a tendency to be obese as adults. In addition to encouraging regular exercise in children, parents are also encouraged to offer children water instead of carbonated beverages and have their children go outside whenever possible instead of parking themselves in front of technological diversions like video games or the television.
One of the biggest issues is that parents may get into the habit of offering food as a mood booster. Generally speaking, this practice is discouraged, as it encourages children to turn to food as a means of coping with emotional issues rather than dealing with any emotional upsets head on. According to HealthyChildren.org, children should be encouraged not to use food as a method of soothing emotional hurts. Parents are instead encouraged to invite their children to play a game or to sit and talk with their children to help them deal with the emotional upset.
The issue of obesity in America has gotten a national audience, thanks to First Lady Michele Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. The campaign is designed to promote healthy eating and exercise habits in children, and most recently has gotten attention from the Sesame Street gang when the First Lady made an appearance on the popular children’s program.
The First Lady says she is “thrilled” by the progress made in the fight against obesity. The Journal of the American Medical Association, however, says there is little reason to celebrate, as obesity rates are still at their highest levels in history. 17 percent of teens are considered obese, though, and roughly a third of adults are obese as well.
Research from the Centers for Disease Control suggests that a decrease in the number of sugary drinks consumed by children and an increase in the numbers of mothers who are breastfeeding may be reasons why the obesity rate among young children have dropped. While scientists have said it is encouraging that the obesity rate has dropped for young children, there have been no recent changes in the obesity rates for other age groups.
By Christina St-Jean
Detroit Free Press