Childhood obesity rates drop in 19 states

WASHINGTON — Data released this week by federal health officials showed that between 2008 and 2011, the obesity rates of low-income preschoolers declined in 19-of-43 states and territories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

The report, "Progress on Childhood Obesity," says one-in-eight preschoolers are obese and that children who are obese or overweight as preschoolers are five times as likely to be obese or overweight as adults compared with children who have a normal weight.

According to the report, "Obesity rates in low-income preschoolers, after decades of rising, began to level off from 2003 through 2008 and now are showing small declines in many states. However, too many preschoolers are obese. State and local officials can play a big part in reducing obesity among preschoolers."

The report recommends several actions state and local officials can pursue to help further reduce the problem among the nation's young:

  • Create partnerships with community members such as civic leaders and child care providers to make community changes that promote healthy eating and active living.
  • Make it easier for families with children to buy healthy, affordable foods and beverages in their neighborhood.
  • Help provide access to safe, free drinking water in places such as community parks, recreation areas, child care centers, and schools.
  • Help local schools open up gyms, playgrounds, and sports fields during non-school hours so more children can safely play.
  • Help child care providers use best practices for improving nutrition, increasing physical activity, and decreasing computer and television time.

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