The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been the bearer of bad news about childhood obesity. The curse of America’s expanding waistline includes the nation’s children.
But instead of releasing another round of grim statistics, a new CDC report says that the national obesity rate for 2- to 4-year-olds in poor families slipped between 2008 and 2011. Ohio’s rate did not change, but the rate fell in Michigan.
The decline is a small part of a broader trend among children, including those from middle-class households and those whose parents are well-educated. One in eight preschoolers across the nation is obese, generally speaking. Among low-income children, the figure is one in seven.
The CDC said the decline in obesity rates was modest — 1 percentage point or less — in 19 states, while three states experienced increases. The drop isn’t as big as it could be, but it is in the right direction. It’s close to a reversal of previous statistics that showed obesity-rate increases in 24 states and declines in only four.
Obese children are five times more likely than their thinner peers to become obese adults; their adult years will consist of taking medicines to control diabetes and heart disease. They will be prime targets for cancer and other maladies.
The CDC is not sure why the childhood obesity rate is declining, but a combination of more-informed parents, more breast-feeding, and more-nutritious foods consumed by low-income people may be part of the answer. White House initiatives on childhood exercise, healthier food choices at school, and home gardening also help.
It’s too early to celebrate, but the new numbers are reason to pass the vegetables and skip the ice cream.
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