Feb 28 2014

New CDC Data Shows Decline In Childhood Obesity Rates

The latest CDC obesity data, published in the February 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, show a significant decline in obesity among children aged 2 to 5 years. Though overall obesity rates remain unchanged, rates in young children improve. Obesity prevalence for this age group went from nearly 14 percent in 2003-2004 to just over 8 percent in 2011-2012 – a decline of 43 percent – based on CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. Although the JAMA study does not specifically compare 2009-2010 with 2011-2012, NHANES data does show a decline in the 2 to 5 year old age group during that time period – from just over 12 percent in 2009-2010 to just over 8 percent in 2011-2012.
“We continue to see signs that, for some children in this country, the scales are tipping. This report comes on the heels of previous CDC data that found a significant decline in obesity prevalence among low-income children aged 2 to 4 years participating in federal nutrition programs,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We’ve also seen signs from communities around the country with obesity prevention programs including Anchorage, Alaska, Philadelphia, New York City and King County, Washington. This confirms that at least for kids, we can turn the tide and begin to reverse the obesity epidemic.”
While the precise reasons for the decline in obesity among 2 to 5 year olds are not clear, many child care centers have started to improve their nutrition and physical activity standards over the past few years. In addition, CDC data show decreases in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among youth in recent years. Another possible factor might be the improvement in breastfeeding rates in the United States, which is beneficial to staving off obesity in breastfed children.
“I am thrilled at the progress we’ve made over the last few years in obesity rates among our youngest Americans,” said Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States of America (FLOTUS). “With the participation of kids, parents, and communities in Let’s Move! these last four years, healthier habits are beginning to become the new norm.”

So my friends, we are encouraged to see this new trend in declining obesity rates in the US, but obesity is a global problem. And despite this apparent statistical improvement, globally, childhood obesity is still severe epidemic.

Noted obesity researcher and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Childhood Obesity, David L. Katz, M.D., MPH, FACPM, FACP issued this response: “A decline in obesity rates from 14% to 8% among children under 5 is certainly welcome news—and far better than the steady increases we have witnessed over recent decades. But this ‘good news’ still leaves our society producing obesity before age 5 in almost one out of every 10 children! Compared to any reasonable baseline, that would be shocking and appalling. The childhood obesity epidemic has lost its capacity for shock and awe due to familiarity. Evidence of progress is important, because it indicates that our efforts matter. But no one should mistake evidence of some improvement in a huge problem in one small part of the population for evidence that our mission is accomplished. We have a very, very long way to go.”
According to Dr. Katz, “the glass is still at least half empty. It will take much more than tiny declines in childhood obesity in some locations to turn this tide; premature complacency would be a very costly mistake. Some good news is very welcome, but we have a very long way to go. Millions of kids are obese and the rate of severe obesity in the U.S. is skyrocketing. Lifelong consequences such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and other obesity-related chronic diseases are increasing in children and teens.”

Dr. Katz believes that action is needed to:
• Empower families with the skill set required to eat well, be active, and control weight
• Implement daily physical activity programming in all schools
• Engage adults in approaches to weight control that are healthful and suitable for children
• Continue to raise school nutrition standards
• Develop programming to enable healthful living, and disseminate the effective programming already established

According to the World Health Organization:
Overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths. At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. In addition, 44% of the diabetes burden, 23% of the ischemic heart disease burden and between 7% and 41% of certain cancer burdens are attributable to overweight and obesity.
Some WHO global estimates from 2008 follow.
• More than 1.4 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight up 23%.
• Of these overweight adults, over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese.

• Overall, more than 10% of the world’s adult population was obese.

In 2011, more than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight. Once considered a high-income country problem, overweight and obesity are now on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. More than 30 million overweight children are living in developing countries and 10 million in developed countries.
Overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight. For example, 65% of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than underweight (this includes all high-income and most middle-income countries).

So when you review the new CDC data, and read all of the “obesity is cured” headlines, let’s not all rejoice. The problem still exists, is still an epidemic and still requires much more effort. The effort should not only be domestic, but international. We applaud the efforts of our FLOTUS and her Let’s Move campaign. We need more education for our children and more corporate participation. This fight is not over yet!!
Let me know your thoughts.

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