New CDC Vital Signs: Obesity Declines Among Low-Income Preschoolers

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After decades of rising rates, there are signs of progress in the fight against childhood obesity.

Obesity among low-income preschoolers declined, from 2008 through 2011, in 19 of the 43 states and territories studied.

Although obesity remains epidemic, the tide has begun to turn for some kids in some states. While the changes are small, for the first time in a generation they are going in the right direction.

Nineteen states and territories reported decreases in obesity among low-income preschoolers. Twenty states and Puerto Rico held steady at their current rate, and obesity increased slightly in three states. Still, 1 in 8 preschoolers is obese in the U.S. Children are five times more likely to be obese as an adult if they are overweight or obese between the ages of three and five years. Obesity in early childhood increases the risk of high cholesterol, high blood sugar, asthma and mental health problems later in childhood and adolescence. The newest Vital Signs report on childhood obesity details these signs of progress.

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes the progress that is being made in the fight against childhood obesity, "Although obesity remains epidemic, the tide has begun to turn for some kids in some states. While the changes are small, for the first time in a generation they are going in the right direction. Obesity in early childhood increases the risk of serious health problems for life."

CDC is encouraging state and local officials to step up efforts to drive down rates of childhood obesity. Business leaders, childcare providers, healthcare providers, communities, and families are some of the groups that influence nutrition and physical activity in the places where young children live, learn, and play. State and local officials can assist these groups by:

•Making it easier for families to buy healthy, affordable foods and beverages in their neighborhoods.
•Helping provide access to safe, free drinking water in places such as community parks, recreation areas, child care centers, and schools.
•Helping local schools open gyms, playgrounds, and sports fields during non-school hours so children can play safely after school, on weekends, and over the summer.
•Helping child care providers adopt best practices for improving nutrition and physical activity and for limiting computer and television time.
•Creating partnerships with civic leaders, child care providers, and others to make community changes that promote healthy eating and active living.

For more information on childhood obesity, visit CDC Childhood Overweight and Obesity.

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