Decreases in Childhood Obesity

Rates of childhood obesity have risen for decades in the U.S., and there are many reasons why its prevention and treatment ought to be a focus of public policy. For one, preschoolers who are overweight or obese are five times more likely than normal-weight preschoolers to have weight problems during adulthood. And one preschooler in eight is obese, with higher rates among some racial minorities.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found encouraging evidence that these trends might be improving. In a study of 11.6 million low-income preschoolers, the CDC found a small decrease in childhood obesity rates in 19 U.S. states and territories from 2008 to 2011. Experts attribute the good news partially to programs that encourage child exercise, an increase in breast-feeding, and improved nutrition in foods provided to low-income families through federal programs. This research suggests that the problem of childhood obesity can be ameliorated.

In the Future of Children, Ana C. Lindsay, Katarina M. Sussner, Juhee Kim, and Steven Gortmaker argue that successful interventions must involve parents from the earliest developmental stages to promote healthful practices in and outside the home. Regarding the racial and economic disparity in childhood obesity rates, Shiriki Kumanyika and Sonya Grier observe that low-income and minority children tend to watch more television than do white, non-poor children and are potentially exposed to more commercials advertising unhealthy foods. One strategy would be for Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to reduce or eliminate advertising time for non-nutritious foods aimed at children. For more recommendations on how to promote childhood health, see the Future of Children issue on Childhood Obesity.

2 thoughts on “Decreases in Childhood Obesity

  1. phroneo86

    You cannot really begin to address the problem of childhood obesity without addressing the underlying reason for health disparity in children especially amongst vulnerable population. Childhood poverty and obesity are related, Children from poor homes may just be more likely to have low self esteem, less likely to blend with their peers and be more physically active. Also children from poor homes are less likely to have access to healthy foods at home and depend more on relatively and more readily available junk foods.

  2. Rodney W

    The problem with kids these days is that they are not as active as we were. I actually believe that there is more awareness about diets and nutrition now and it is readily available to people of all income classes. However, when you have kids eating and not burning off the calories, because they’d rather play on smart phones or tablets all day, they will stay fat/obese. There is only so much the government can do. It’s a simple equation, all you have to do is get them to burn more calories than they consume.

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