Recently, many people were under the impression that obesity rates dropped by 43 percent in previous months in the preschool population. Reuters came out with a report by Sharon Begley saying researchers now believe the drop in obesity rates cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is unlikely.
A study was published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers at the CDC seemed to have discovered something astounding. Supporters in the fight to cure obesity gave the credit to the changes in the federal nutrition program, and the elimination of trans fats within the country.
First Lady Michelle Obama was recently commended for her apparent efforts in the cause, but obesity specialists took a closer look into the findings. One researcher reportedly claims it was a statistical fluke, and other studies looking at preschoolers did not validate the CDC study.
Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of the weight center at Massachusetts General Hospital, says there always needs to be a “healthy degree of skepticism.” A small sample size could also be the problem. Epidemiologist Geoffrey Kabat of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine says in a small study like this one, there is a greater likelihood of “chance fluctuations.”
The CDC scientists themselves noted that there were statistical limitations, leading to imprecision of findings. The real conclusion of the study showed no significant changes in obesity prevalence between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012. A CDC representative reported that the lead author of the JAMA study, Cynthia Ogden, acknowledges that the sample size is somewhat small. The representative also said that the 43 percent drop in preschooler obesity was not very descriptive of the trend.
Most nutrition experts claim that if the obesity rates should drop, as what was the unlikely case in the CDC study, there must be a change in eating habits and activity levels among children 2 to 5 years of age.
Recently, Michelle Obama announced a new focus, one that will encourage people to cook at home. She strongly believes home cooked meals have less fat, sodium, calories, and cholesterol than restaurant-prepared foods. She also believes many people do not know how quickly home-cooked meals can be conjured. It might take an hour to get to a restaurant and wait to be seated, then one must wait even longer for the food to be fully prepared, then wait even longer to pay the bill when at home it could take as little as 30 minutes.
Part of her strategy includes “cajoling” food and beverage retailers and manufacturers to make healthier products. Already, federal and state regulations have initiated goals set to alter school breakfast and lunch programs.
To kick start this move away from restaurants and high calorie foods, Mrs. Obama wants to encourage restaurants and markets to offer recipes along with the entrées and popular side dishes purchased on a day-to-day basis. Cooking demonstrations should also be instituted along with modernized home economics classes in schools. This way, everyone can obtain basic cooking skills. Mrs. Obama pledged Friday to stick with the issue long after she has left the White House. Though the drop in obesity rates claimed by the CDC was rather unlikely, it has given some advocates hope that methods can be improved.
By Lindsey Alexander
Related Story: Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Program Beneficial or Damaging?