In a new study, 41 states and territories show declines in obesity among young children from families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) between 2010 and 2016, according to data published in U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In 2009, WIC state agencies were required to implement redesigned WIC food packages to better align with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and infant feeding practice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. This change led to increased availability of healthier foods and beverages in authorized WIC stores.

CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers analyzed obesity trends from 2010 to 2016 among children aged 2–4 from low-income families enrolled in WIC. Over 12.4 million children from 56 WIC state agencies and territories were included in the study.

The researchers found that obesity prevalence among young children enrolled in WIC in 2016 varied from 7.8% to 19.8%. During 2010–2016, obesity decreased by more than 3% in seven WIC state and territorial agencies (New Jersey, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico). A previous study reported that 34 of 56 WIC state/territory agencies experienced decreases in obesity prevalence during 2010–2014.

The research also found that three states showed significant increases in obesity during 2010–2016: Alabama (0.5%), North Carolina (0.6%), and West Virginia (2.2%). And despite the recent declines in obesity among children enrolled in WIC, the prevalence remained high in most states in 2016.

“While we have seen some progress, obesity prevalence among young children remains too high,” said Ruth Petersen, director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, in a CDC press release. “We must persist in our efforts to support healthy eating and physical activity for this positive trend to continue.”

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