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Obesity rates drop for children according CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CPC) announced yesterday that after decades of rising obesity rates for children there may be some good news. A new report published by the CDC claims that some of the strategies used to lower the obesity rates, especially for low-income families, may be paying off.

In the study, researchers reviewed data from approximately 12 million children between the ages of 2 and 4 who participated in federally funded nutrition programs. From 2008 to 2011, nineteen of the states saw a “small but significant decline in preschoolers' obesity rates between 2008 and 2011.” Three states including Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee -saw a slight increase over the same time period, while the remaining states did not see a change. There were some states which were not included in the study because they had changed their obesity rates reporting strategies or the researchers found inconsistencies in the data. These states include Utah, Wyoming, Louisiana, Texas, Maine, Delaware, Alaska, Oklahoma, Virginia and South Carolina.

What does the CDC say about the obesity rates? The CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, noted "It's a bright spot for our nation's young kids, but the fight is very far from over."

Obesity Rates and who is affected?

Unfortunately, even with the good news from the new study we are looking at significantly high obesity rates for children. The CDC estimates that one out of every eight preschoolers in the United States is obese. The numbers are even worse for minority groups, specifically African-American and Hispanic children.

When I was a kid if you were a bit overweight parents would tell you that you would “grow out of it,” or it was “just baby fat.” Unfortunately, that is generally not the case. What researchers have discovered is that children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are five times more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, creating severe health issues and increased risk of deadly diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

What can we do to lower obesity rates?

The Government has been actively involved in the fight to lower obesity rates with programs such as Let's Move! And they have made a concerted effort to improve school lunches and promote other active play. But the real change needs to come from families. Parents need to set an example. Active, healthy families have active healthy kids. If you want to be strong, healthy and reach your ideal weight you need to mimic families that already have reached their goals.

Go for a hike, take walks after dinner, limit sugary drinks, and take your kids to the gym with you. Make it fun. Create memories.  Having family meals together and including fruits and vegetables with each meal can also help.

The good news is that all the changes that have occurred, either at the family, state or governmental level seems to be making a real difference for some children across the country. But we also know that the obesity rates are still too high and we have further to go. The good news is that this is the first time since 2007 that we have seen a real turning point in the childhood obesity rates, and that’s good news for everyone.
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