The study is the first conducted at the state level to find evidence the obesity trend among American children may be abating. In December, the CDC announced that on a nationwide level the rate of obesity among low-income preschoolers fell 1.8 percent from 2003 to 2010.
What I don't know is whether that's 1.8 absolute percent or 1.8 relative percent.
Just as we don't have a spectacular understanding of why everyone got so fat, it seems as as if we don't have a fantastic understanding as to why the trend is reversing, although this article delves into some theories:
Three trends are being held up by health experts as encouraging developments: programs to get kids to exercise more, such as first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign; an increase in breast-feeding; and improvements in the nutritional content of foods provided to low-income women and children by the federal government.
One of the issues I have is with the WIC (Women Infants and Children) program. Around here, they often give out juice even though I check off the "don't give" box on all the WIC forms. They're also fond of telling parents that their normal-weight (or even overweight!) kids are underweight.
That said, WIC has been improving the nutritional content of the food that they give out, even if the local execution of the program is poor. A big thing that needs to stop is the fruit juice. He's a quick explanation of why:
Drink (8oz/240mL): Typ. Soda|Apple Juice|Orange Juice|Grape Juice
Shocked? Here's a hint: it takes one small apple to make one oz (30ml) of apple juice. Juice is exactly as sugary as soda. We really need to be discouraging its consumption. It turns kids into soda drinkers. Guess who wants kids to get juice with their WIC benefit? Guess which pediatrician isn't playing along?
One thing where I would really like to see some government spending is in improving access to sporting programs for children in low and middle-income families. I think it's actually a matter of national security; if we have a nation full of fat kids, where are we going to get military personnel if we need a draft? They can't all be Gomer Pyle. It's also a sound fiscal policy, a relatively small investment in preventative medicine to prevent much higher healthcare costs. Insurance companies are starting see the fiscal benefit in rewarding members for healthy behaviors and some are planning to experiment with reward schemes (e.g. subsidizing gym memberships) to attract customers on the new state exchanges.
Breastfeeding has been a very exciting development. We could be doing better. One of the problems is that the formula companies really aggressively market their products. They even have reps come by my office with "Breastfeeding kits" including, of course, free samples of formula (they agreed to stop with the free samples in the BF kits, finally). But the "kits" are really just a bunch of marketing materials and a cheap plastic hand breast pump. I've banned them from my office. I'd like to see some better regulation on formula and its marketing; breastfeeding --you'd think the technique would just come naturally-- is really tough for the first week or two and if they can give a new mom the chance to give up, they will.
As for me, one thing I see is a lot of fat minority kids. And I do think genetics play into it. Northern European genetics seem well-suited to a modern diet. Pacific Islander genes (for example) not so much.
What have you done about this in your own lives?