Study shows obesity rate dropping in children

By April 15, 2014 Blog, News No Comments

Children Running


CDC research sees a decline of 43 percent

By Nicole Luna

A new study shows that although obesity prevalence remains high, obesity rates have dropped in children between the ages of 2-5 years old.

The study, published in the Journal of American Medical Association by researchers of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, shows that obesity prevalence for 2- to 5-year-olds went from 14 percent in 2003-04 to just over 8 percent in 2011-12 — a decline of nearly 43 percent.

According the CDC website, researchers do not know the reason for the results. Over the years, CDC researchers have found a decline in sugar consumption in youth could be a factor, among other things.

Dr. Ayman Arouse, a pediatrician on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne and First Step Pediatric Associates, said there isn’t going to be just one reason but many contributing factors for the decline.

“Unfortunately, obesity is still on the rise,” he said. “However, a lot of parents are becoming more aware about their children’s diet. I especially see a lot of younger parents making conscious decisions in their kid’s diet.”

Breastfeeding is one of the best methods to extending benefits that go beyond basic nutrition, Arouse said.

“Breastfeeding is by far the best decision a mother can do for her child,” Arouse said. “When mothers begin giving a child baby formula early on, they tend to start giving a child baby food early as well.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breast milk contains all the vitamins and nutrients a baby needs in the first six months of life. Breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect a baby from illness.

Arouse recommends mothers breastfeeding their children, then introducing them to healthy eating habits. The key is to get them while they’re young, he said.

According to a CDC press release, even though the center cannot find a precise reason they have found that over the last few years, many child care centers have improved nutrition and physical activity standards.

Kim Chance, Cleburne ISD child nutrition director, said the goal is change the child’s desired taste. She said if children begin to eat healthy early on those habits will continue as they get older, not only in school but also outside of school.

“From what I’ve seen, the elementary school kids are more receptive than the high school kids,” she said.

CISD follows the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy that provides nutrition standards for each school district.

Little Tyke Child Care Director Lisa Hilton said the facility also follows those same state nutrition program for the children. She also makes sure the children receive daily exercise. However, she hasn’t noticed a decline or change in children’s eating habits.

“We live in a fast-paced world so I do tend to see parents giving their children more fast food meals,” Hilton said. “But there are families who are more health conscious and others that are just not.”

The CDC release also has comments from First Lady Michelle Obama, who launched a campaign in 2012 to end childhood obesity.

“I am thrilled at the progress we’ve made over the last few years in obesity rate among our youngest Americans,” she said.

Arouse commended Obama’s effort, as well as the efforts schools and childcare centers have done to promote healthy lifestyle, but he said it has to start with the families.

“We need to lead by example. As a family, if you are eating healthy together and exercising together, the kids will follow,” he said.

According to the study, obesity is still on the rise and Arouse said parents need to be aware of the serious health risks obesity can have on a child.

Immediate health risks of obesity include:

  • Obese youth have higher risk of high cholesterol or high blood pressure, as well as risk factors for cardiovascular disease. According to the CDC, in a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70 percent of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Even though the disease isn’t necessarily present in the child, within 20-30 years he or she may be suffering from heart disease, diabetes, arthritis or even cancer.
  • Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

Source: Cleburne Times-Review

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