Fort Worth, Texas,
08:04 AM

Examining new childhood obesity report

Exciting news about childhood obesity hit the headlines at the beginning of this month. After decades of continued rise in the number of obese children, a decline in childhood obesity was reported.

I, and I’m sure many others who care for children, were excited by the news. It was with great interest that I read the news article and began to examine the story more closely. The news while exciting deals with a relatively small number and specific population of children.

The study examined obesity rates in pre-school children, age 2-4 years old whose families received WIC assistance (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). Not all of the states submitted information. Of the 41 participating states, 18 states showed modest declines in the number of obese preschoolers from information collected from 2008-2011. The remainder of the 41 states showed no change or even increases in obesity rates.

The challenge is understanding what this information means and placing it in the proper perspective. Experts in the field of childhood obesity believe the positive numbers reflect changes in the WIC program beginning in 2008. The program was changed in an effort to increase fresh fruits and vegetable purchases as well as other health options such as whole grains and low fat foods. Additionally, encouragement of breastfeeding is thought to help contribute the improvements.

The news validates the central importance of healthy eating in weight management. I believe that fresh ingredients and home preparation of meals is a major key in overall health and weight management. I have slowly continued reading the book, Salt, Sugar, and Fat, and am increasingly convinced of this belief.

As discussed in the article, challenges remain. One in eight pre-schoolers remain obese. And unfortunately, the likelihood is high for these children that obesity will persist into adulthood.

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About the author

As a self-described ‘techie,’ Joel Steelman, M.D., has a keen interest in the wise use of technology to improve medical care. Since 2001, he has helped implement electronic medical recordkeeping in two endocrine practices. He still loves to write, and he is a regular contributor to the Physician Perspective page on the Cook Children’s Web site.

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