U.S. obesity levels for low income children may be on the decline

January 2, 2013

A study published by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that obesity rates for children ages 2–4 from low income families may be declining. It marks the first national data to show obesity and extreme obesity may be declining in young children. The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The prevalence of obesity among those ages 2–4 from low income families fell to 14.94% in 2010, down from 15.21% in 2003 and compared with 13.05% in 1998. Meanwhile, the prevalence of extreme obesity fell to 2.07% in 2010 from 2.22% in 2003 and compared with 1.75% in 1998.

The research was based on data from the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System (PedNSS), which includes almost 50% of children eligible for federally funded maternal and child health and nutrition programs. The analysis for the study included 26.7 million children ages 2–4 from 30 states and the District of Columbia that consistently reported data to PedNSS from 1998 through 2010. One routine clinic visit with demographic information and measured height and weight was randomly selected for each child.

The researchers concluded that “the results of this study indicate modest recent progress of obesity prevention among young children. These findings may have important health implications because of the lifelong health risks of obesity and extreme obesity in early childhood.”