A CDC report released this month finds that obesity among low-income preschoolers has either remained steady or declined in a majority of states studied, suggesting that the tide may be turning in the childhood obesity epidemic. 12.1 million preschoolers in 43 states who participate in WIC and other public early childhood programs were studied. About 1 in 8 preschoolers is obese, and obese children are more likely to be obese in adolescence and adulthood, which is correlated with a number of poor health outcomes.
A total of 43 states and territories were studied. Nineteen of 43 showed declines in obesity among low-income preschoolers. In addition, obesity rates in 21 of 43 states and territories remained stable, with increases in only 3 of 43 states and territories. A New York Times article about the study suggests that these decreases may a result in decreases in overall calories consumed, including those from sugary drinks, as well as increases in breastfeeding practices among mothers. The CDC report comes within days of new research linking consumption of sugary drinks among children 2 to 5 to an increased likelihood of obesity in 5 year olds.
The CDC offers tips and resources for parents for promoting healthy weight in their children, which include physical activity, healthy breakfasts, and including children in selecting fruits and vegetables to eat. They also provide policy change recommendations for federal, state and local officials, including food assistance programs to increase access to nutritious and affordable foods, school play and safe environment development.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study childhood obesity. Elaine Borawski, director of the Center for Health Promotion Research and co-director of the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods, studies prevention of and interventions for obesity. Leona Cuttler, director of The Center for Child Health & Policy at Rainbow Babies and Children, specializes in childhood diabetes and obesity. Robert Needlman, Professor of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine, was recently featured in an Ideastream program examining childhood obesity in Northeast Ohio. Ellen Rome, head of the section of adolescent medicine at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, studies eating disorders and obesity among adolescents. Amy Sheon, director of the Urban Health Institute, is working to create a model for obesity surveillance.