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New CDC Data Show Decline in Obesity Among Young Children

Obesity prevalence drops 43% (February 25)

The latest obesity data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published in the February 26 issue of JAMA, show a significant decline in obesity among children aged 2 to 5 years.

Obesity prevalence for this age group went from nearly 14% in 2003–2004 to just over 8% in 2011–2012 — a decline of 43% — based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Although the JAMA study does not specifically compare 2009–2010 with 2011–2012, the NHANES data do show a decline in the 2- to 5-year-old age group during that period — from just over 12% in 2009–2010 to just over 8% in 2011–2012.

While the precise reasons for the decline in obesity among 2- to 5-year-olds are not clear, many child care centers have started to improve their nutrition and physical activity standards over the past few years. In addition, CDC data show decreases in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among youth in recent years. Another possible factor might be the improvement in breastfeeding rates in the U.S., which is beneficial to staving off obesity in breastfed children, the CDC says.

Overall, the new data indicate that there have been no significant changes in the prevalence of obesity among 2- to 19-year-olds or adults in the U.S. between 2003–2004 and 2011–2012.

Source: CDC; February 25, 2014.

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