Childhood Obesity Rates Starting to Decline

Obesity in children

For decades, child obesity rates have been on the rise throughout the country.  At present, 12.5 million people under the age of 20 are overweight or obese.

However, this trend might finally be reversing. For the first time in 30 years, several American cities are reporting their first declines.  In places like New York and Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anchorage, Alaska, and Kearney, Nebraska the number of obese school-aged children have dropped from 3 to 5.5%.  The state of Mississippi has also registered a drop, but only among white students.

While these numbers may seem small at first glance, experts believe that they are a strong indication that one of the nation’s “most intractable health problems” may actually be reversing course.

Why are rates dropping in some places but not others?  Researchers note that declines occurred in cities that have long-term obesity reduction policies in.  In Philadelphia, for example, sugary drinks have been barred from school vending machines since 2004; and deep fryers, favored by school administrators who did not want to lose popular items like French fries, were unplugged because Wayne T. Grasela, the head of food services for the school district, stopped buying oil to fill them.

It is important to note that the current declines are mostly among higher income, largely white populations and are still not benefiting many minority and/or low-income children who are disproportionately impacted by the obesity epidemic.

Rachel Roth

Executive Assistant

Campaign Consultation Inc.

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