|Romina Gieseman, CPNP|
According to the New York Times, federal authorities reported a 43 percent drop in the obesity rate among 2-to 5-year-old children over the past decade. This is a significant finding that has given some researchers hope that policy changes, may positively affect health behavior. The behaviors cited that are believed to have contributed to the decline are:
1. Children now consume less calories from sugary beverages than they did in 1999 and consume 4-7% less calories than they did ten years ago (down 7% for boys; down 4% for girls).
2. More women are breastfeeding, which can lead to healthier weight gain for younger children.
3. Families with children have been buying lower-calorie foods over the past decade.Children ages 2 to 5 years old from low-income families have a 6% decrease in obesity from 2004-2012. (New York Times; 2/26/14)
Barry M. Poplin, a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, stated that the buying of lower-calorie foods over the past decade was unrelated to the economic downturn. He gave credit to the WIC program, which stands for the federally funded "Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children"(WIC). The program has reduced funding to subsidize fruit juices, cheese and eggs while it has increased funding for whole fruits and vegetables. First Lady Michelle Obama has also led a push to change exercise and eating habits through television and other marketing venues like the internet.This is significant progress, but we still need to be more aware how important it is to start obesity prevention at a young age. Obesity and all the disease risks associated with obesity set in during the preschool years and become established. After that, "obesity is very difficult to shake," stated Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan, a professor of medicine and public health at Emory University in Atlanta.
With over a decade's worth of research, we see that one in 3 adults are obese, 17% of all children ages 2-19-years old are obese and the highest increase in obesity has been for women over 60. There has been an increase in the number of children who are now being raised by their grandmothers. It is not clear whether or not children raised by grandparents who are themselves obese, have a higher risk of childhood obesity.Dr. Cynthia L. Ogden, a researcher for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the lead author of a report published March 5,2014 for the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that about one in 12 children in this age group (2-5 years old) was obese in 2012. The rates for minorities were much higher than for the age group in population in general. Rates for African-Americans are one in nine and for Hispanics one in six. You can find more information on the report at http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0225-child-obesity.html