Slight Drop in Pre-School Obesity

A new study from the CDC suggests rates of obesity in pre-school children from lower-income homes have fallen slightly since 2003. The change is quite small — from 15.2% to 14.9% — but if it continues, it would be the first sign that obesity rates, which have grown consistently since 1980, may have moderated in children from low-income families. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 27 million children ages two to four from 30 states and the District of Columbia, who were part of the federal food subsidy program, Women, Infants, and Children. The rate of extreme obesity dropped as well, from 2.22% in 2003 to 2.07%.

Dr. Heide Blanck, the researcher who led the study, says the reasons for the decline are unknown, but she theorizes that the rising rate of breast feeding helped, as did changes in the food environment, including fewer dollars spent on advertising food to children and a decline in the amount of sugar in sweetened cereals.

These observations are consistent with reports from other samples of children, such as the chart above from a national sample, suggesting that increases in childhood obesity rates may have slowed or stopped.

Click here to read the New York Times story and here to read highlights of the study.