Newspaper article

Minnesota Shows Decline in Low-Income Preschoolers' Obesity Rate

Newspaper article

Minnesota Shows Decline in Low-Income Preschoolers' Obesity Rate

Article excerpt

Some good news on the childhood obesity front: New research published Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that many states have recently begun to experience a decline -- albeit a slight one -- in the obesity rates of their low-income preschoolers.

Minnesota is among those states.

"Although obesity remains epidemic, the tide has begun to turn for some kids in some states," CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement released with the report. "While the changes are small, for the first time in a generation they are going in the right direction."

Preventing obesity in children is a major public health priority, both nationally and here in Minnesota. Research has shown that children who are obese tend to have more physical and emotional problems, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and depression. They are also five times more likely than other children to become overweight or obese as adults.

Currently, 12.1 percent -- or about one in eight -- low-income preschoolers in the United States is considered obese. That's up from about 5 percent in 1980.

The CDC defines an obese child as one whose body mass index, or BMI, is within the top 5 percent of children the same age and gender.

A modest fall in Minnesota

Eighteen states in the CDC study experienced a drop between 2008 and 2011 in the prevalence of obesity among their low-income children aged 2 to 4 years. In Minnesota, the rate fell somewhat modestly -- less than a percentage point over the three-year period of the study, from 13.4 percent in 2008 to 12.6 percent in 2011. Five states, including Minnesota's neighbor to the west, South Dakota, scored better, with at least a 1 percent drop.

Twenty states, however, showed no decline, and three, including Minnesota's eastern neighbor, Wisconsin, had an increase.

Ten states were not included in the study because of data inconsistencies during the years analyzed in the study. …

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