A new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association shines a bright light on a pretty dismal topic: childhood obesity.
Analysis of this data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that obesity rates among 2-5 year olds dropped 43% from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012.
Childhood obesity was 13.9% among 2-5 year olds in 2003-2004 and dropped to 8.4% by 2011-2012.
It’s not all chocolate roses for the bigger picture outside of this age range though: obesity among 2-19 year olds dropped just 0.2% from 17.2% to 17.0% over the same time period.
And don’t forget that parents (who direct the majority of 2-5 year olds’ food choices) still have obesity rates topping 30%.
While the nutrition world is scrambling to explain this unexpected drop in early childhood obesity, a few important points have emerged:
- Kids who are overweight as children are more likely to become overweight adults – this study bodes well for the future of adult obesity if poor health habits can be curbed earlier in life
- Preventing obesity is easier than treating it – getting early childhood obesity rates down is a step in the right direction for our entire population
- While there has been no significant changes in overall obesity rates – hey, at least things aren’t getting worse!