All moms worry about their kids’ health and fitness, but for moms with kids dealing with childhood obesity, this issue is first and foremost in their minds. I read an article on the front page of The New York Times today that reports some encouraging news about a decrease in childhood obesity for children ages two to five. The federal health survey which will be published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) later this week and that was cited in the Times indicates a “sharp fall” in obesity rates for all 2- to 5-year-old children in the past decade. This is significant because it’s the first time there has been a meaningful decrease for obesity in any age group. Likewise, research indicates that 3 to 5 year olds who are overweight or obese are five times as likely to be overweight or obese as adults. While researchers are optimistic about the findings, they also caution that children of this age comprise only a small fraction of Americans and that the numbers for Americans overall have either remained flat or even increased in the group of women who are 60 and older.
Promoting Healthy Weight for Children
There are many opinions and little agreement among researchers as to why this decrease is happening. Some researchers are crediting the increase in breast-feeding moms which can account for healthier weight gain in young children. Other researchers point to evidence that families have been buying lower-calorie foods over the past decade. There are also ongoing federal, state, and local programs that may be starting to effect change. As mentioned in the Times article, First Lady Michelle Obama is a passionate advocate for this issue and her Let’s Move! initiative for healthier eating and exercise habits for kids has brought much-needed publicity to the issue of child obesity and the obesity epidemic in America and provides parents and caregivers with common sense strategies that may be starting to pay off. Also mentioned by the Times is that Mayor Bloomberg in New York City has made important strides aimed at fighting obesity such as putting an end to the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and requiring restaurant chains to provide calorie information in their menus.
Though more data is needed to see whether the obesity decline reported for young children may spread to older kids, it is encouraging that progress is happening in reducing obesity in this vulnerable age group.
Whether or not we are personally affected by the issue of obesity in children, we are all invested in helping to promote healthy weight for children, and to pass on the healthy eating and fitness habits and that will carry them through their lifetimes.