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Obesity Rate Declining In Young Children

The obesity rate dropped 43 percent for young children over the past decade, marking the first major decline in the obesity epidemic.

plate of vegetables, fruit and crackers

Photo: Chris and Jenni (Flickr)

One theory for why the obesity rate is declining is federal, state and local programs aimed at improving the public's health.

Good news for children’s health, both current and future—there was a 43 percent drop in obesity rates for children aged 2 to 5 over the past decade.

Obesity And Children

The news of declining obesity rates, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is true only for that age group.

Researchers are encouraged by potential signs of a shift in American health, as obesity often sets in by the age of 5.

The study didn’t look into reasons for the decline, but several theories support the facts.

Theories And Hope

One reason could be federal programs aimed at creating and reinforcing healthier eating habits. For example, the WIC (women, infant and children) supplemental program provides incentives for eating fresh fruits and vegetables instead of high-fructose juice.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! program has encouraged activity, and state policies, like New York’s banning of trans fats, have helped to remove unhealthy additives from food.

Pregnant women are smoking less, while new mothers are breastfeeding more, which may support a healthy weight in infants.

Food companies have also decreased their marketing to children: Food ads aimed at this particular age group dropped 13.7 percent from 2003 to 2007.

Experts are hoping the decline marks a sea change in the war against obesity, but are still cautious. Only time will tell if lasting changes are taking hold in the American public.

Read More:

  • Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade (New York Times)
  • These 6 reasons explain why childhood obesity has fallen so much (Washington Post)
  • Obesity rates drop for 2- to 5-year-olds (CNN)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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