Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why Has Childhood Obesity Dropped Among Young Kids?

Childhood obesity remains a headache for many nations around the world as it can lead to a number of chronic medical conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type-2 diabetes and even some cancers.

However, the figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on February 25, 2014 showed that obesity rates are falling among America’s fat preschoolers. Obesity among kids aged between 2 and 5 declined by 43 percent between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012, from 14 percent of children to 8 percent.

The report, which was also published on February 26, 2014 in ‘JAMA’ (The Journal of the American Medical Association), indicated that overall obesity held steady but remains high in the USA, with about one-third of adults and 17 percent of kids and teens are still classified as obese. Nearly a third of all kids aged between 2 and 19 and more than two-thirds of adults remain either overweight or obese.

So why has childhood obesity has dropped only among young children? There are many explanations.

First of all, children are consuming fewer calories from sugary drinks than they did in 1999. More women are breast-feeding that can lead to a healthier range of weight gain for young children. There was a drop in overall calories for children in the past decade (down by 7 percent for boys and 4 percent for girls), though some health experts argued that such declines were too small to make much difference.

According to experts tracking American food purchases in a large data project, families with children had been buying lower-calorie foods over the past decade together with changes in the federally funded Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children had caused the decline in obesity among young children. The program, which subsidizes food for low-income women, decreased funding for fruit juices, cheese and eggs and raised it for whole fruits and vegetables.

It is also possible that some combination of state, local and federal policies aimed at cutting obesity is starting to make a difference. For instance, 10,000 childcare centers across the country have signed on a program, which is led by the first lady of USA, to change children’s eating and exercise habits.

Then, the New York City also made a major effort to fight obesity by telling restaurants to stop using artificial trans fats in cooking and required chain restaurants to display calorie information on their menus.

Among health professionals, some pointed out that there was not enough data to determine whether the decline would spread to older children while others believed the decline was real but cautioned that the age group was only a small slice of American society.

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