Obesity Decreases among Preschoolers
Obesity rates fell among U.S. preschool-age children in 2010, reversing a trend of the past decade, according to the first national study to spot a decline in the condition among young kids.
The rate of obese 2- to 4-year-olds from low-income families dropped 1.8 percent in 2010 from 2003, while it fell 6.8 percent for those who were extremely obese, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers attributed the decline to greater awareness of health problems caused by obesity as well as an increase in breast-feeding, which studies have shown can reduce the risk. Obesity even at such a young age can set up children for diabetes, heart disease and even premature death, said Heidi Blanck, a study author.
"We've flipped from going up to really now showing a decrease," Blanck, acting director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Atlanta-based CDC, said. "It's a modest decrease, but at least we've changed the direction. We're optimistic that with recent investments and recent initiatives we'll continue to see these numbers decline."
Previous studies had shown that obesity levels may have reached a plateau in various age groups, she said.
Researchers used data from the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System, which includes about 50 percent of children eligible for U.S.-funded maternal and child health and nutrition programs. The study included 27. …