The rate of obesity in children aged 2 to 5 dropped to 8.4 percent between 2011-2012, from 13.9 percent in 2003-2004, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate also dropped for children ages 6 to 11, but less so, to 17.7 percent from 18.8 percent over the previous period.
The decrease among preschoolers could be a result of child-care centers offering more healthy food and increased exercise and a decline in the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, the CDC said. It could also be the result of an increase in breast-feeding rates.
Last August, the CDC reported that the obesity rate for low-income preschoolers declined between 2008 and 2011 in 19 of 43 states and territories measured, with Kentucky showing a decline. F is for Fat reports that 15.5 percent of 2-to-4-year-olds in Kentucky low-income families were obese in 2011, a decrease from 17.2 percent in 2003. Kentucky ranks sixth highest for pre-kindergarten obesity, with one in three children either overweight or obese before entering kindergarten. The latest figures for Kentucky are expected in late summer.
|Source: Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System 2008-2011
“We continue to see signs that, for some children in this country, the scales are tipping,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told McKay. “This confirms that at least for kids, we can turn the tide and begin to reverse the obesity epidemic.”
The Kentucky Department of Public Health is working toward decreasing early childhood obesity in the state with a $275,000 CDC grant, which will help some early care and education centers improve nutrition and exercise standards through training the providers about healthy eating, physical activity, breast-feeding support and how much screen time is appropriate for young children.
The project is designed to help 4,000 children at 75 child-care centers in Jefferson, Fayette, Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties.
This is good news, because overweight children often become overweight teenagers. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that overweight kindergartners have four times the risk of becoming obese by age 14 as those of normal weight.
The CDC cautioned that obesity rates rose among teens remain high among both adults and children, having changed little over the past decade, McKay notes. In 2011-2012, 16.9 percent of 2-to-19-year-olds and 34.9 percent of adults were obese. In 2003-2004 the respecti ve rates were 17.1% and 32.2%.