Childhood obesity reportedly decreasing, though why is not clear

The obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-olds has dropped, according to a federal report — but among older kids, a high obesity rate is holding steady.

Childhood obesity once again made news headlines last week when a federal report in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children has decreased 43 percent in the past decade (dropping from 13.9 percent to 8.4 percent).

The finding offers a “glimmer of hope,” as many media outlets said of the report, which was released the same day that First Lady Michelle Obama and FDA officials unveiled a revamped version of nutrition labels. While some have credited the increase in public awareness and efforts of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign for the turnaround, there is no clear evidence showing why the decrease occurred; reasons for the decrease are also not detailed in the federal report.

Obesity in kids is a nationwide epidemic and a public health concern: Nearly 17 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are considered obese, a number that has remained fairly constant in the past decade. Obesity is just one of the chronic health conditions facing the current generation of kids:

It’s common knowledge that obesity and type 2 diabetes rates are skyrocketing among American adults, but children are undergoing their own crisis. In 2010 more than one in three children and adolescents in the United States was overweight or obese. This rate has doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the 2011 National Diabetes Statistics, rates of type 2 diabetes, rarely seen in children before the 1990s, are rising along with their weight: Between 2002 and 2005, there were about 3,600 new cases a year. And parent surveys from the National Health Interview Survey indicate that ADHD diagnoses are also on the rise, increasing about 3 percent per year from 1997 to 2006 and 5.5 percent per year from 2003 to 2007. (“Growing Healthy Kids,” Experience Life, September 2013)

To help you dig deeper into the health issues facing kids, we’ve gathered all of our articles on childhood health and family nutrition from Experience Life‘s extensive archives. Take a look — and if there are other health concerns you want to learn more about, let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @ExperienceLife.

CHILDREN & FAMILY

OBESITY & DIABETES

Maggie Fazeli Fard is Experience Life's staff writer. Casie Leigh Lukes contributed to this report.

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