December 11, 2018

CDC Says Childhood Obesity Rates Declining

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sent out a press release stating that obesity prevalence for children aged 2 to 5 years has declined from 14% in 2003-2004 to just over 8% in 2011-2012. That is a decline of 43% based on the National health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data.

Baby eating broccoliDr. Tom Frieden, CDC Director, said in a statement, “we continue to see signs that, for some children in this country, the scales are tipping. This report comes on the heels of previous CDC data that found a significant decline in obesity prevalence among low-income children aged 2 to 4 years participating in federal nutrition programs.”

The reasons for the decline aren’t clear, although child care centers are trying to improve their nutrition and physical activity standards. There is also a decrease in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among children. Michelle Obama said, “I am thrilled at the progress we’ve made over the last few years in obesity rates among our youngest Americans.”

The USDA announced today that they are revamping the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) for the first time since 1980. The list of foods that WIC vouchers could buy was limited to basics such as eggs, cereals, bread, infant formula, and milk. The changes include introduction of fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and veggies to the list.

Whole grain options will now be included in the list of WIC-approved foods, along with soy-based beverages and tofu. The allowance for each child’s fruit and vegetables purchased will be increased by $2.00 per month, which is a 30% gain. The changes were recommended by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.

At the same time, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that one in three 11-year-olds in Europe is overweight or obese. From 2002 to 2010, the number of countries where more than 20% of 11, 13 and 15-year olds are overweight increased from 5% to 11%. The agency blames cheap, convenient food that is high in fats, salt, and sugars for this increase. WHO’s regional director Zsuzsanna Jakab said, “our perception of what is normal has shifted; being overweight is now more common than unusual.”

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