A study published late February in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that obesity rates in U.S preschoolers had dropped an astonishing 43 percent in 10 years. It now appears that the results of the study on obesity rates of preschoolers may be false. Public health advocates had used this study as proof of success.
The results of the study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were a shock. Experts did not have an answer as to why the obesity rate had dropped so significantly for this age group.
It turns out that the group of preschoolers, children ages two to five, included in the study were not a large enough group. In order for these results to be considered accurate, the study should have used a larger sample size. The study included 871 children, ages two to five, in its sample group. Because the obesity rate for this age group is fairly low, using low numbers makes the likelihood of errors from random chance higher. The CDC knew that their sample size was limited, and included that information with their study.
The 43 percent that the CDC claimed was determined by rounding up the 5.5 points of change, a roughly 40 percent change, up to 43 percent. The 2003-2004 study reported a 13.9 percent obesity rate for the preschool age group, the current study found an 8.4 percent rate for this age group.
What this means is that it is likely there might not have been any change, and that the obesity rates of preschoolers in the study may be false. The 13.9 percent from the previous study had a margin of error that meant the results could be anywhere in the range of 10.8 percent to 17.6 percent. The margin of error for the current study puts the range at 5.9 percent to 11.6 percent.
Knowing all of this, the conclusion from the CDC scientists was that there were no significant changes in youth or adults. They even included that the results needed to be interpreted with caution.
The CDC press release said something different. The press release stated that there was a significant decline for the preschool age group, and used the 43 percent figure in its statement.
First Lady Michelle Obama weighed in on the results saying how happy she was with the progress that had been made. She went on to credit her campaign, “Let’s Move!” for some of the success. The “Let’s Move!” campaign recently proposed new rules. These rules would limit the types of foods and drinks that are allowed to be advertised in schools. The logos of high-calorie foods and drinks which are high in sugar would no longer be allowed on school campuses.
It appears that perhaps there was not as much success in the study as some claimed there to be, and that the drop in obesity rates in preschoolers may be false. If there was a drop in obesity rates, it is likely not as high as the CDC press release stated. According to the information included with the study, obesity rates remained the same, and there was a recommendation for further monitoring.
By Ashley Campbell