First Lady says report "reaffirms" impact of Let's Move! campaign...
Washington, DC - A new report released on Tuesday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows the rate of obesity among low-income
preschoolers has had a very small but measureable decline in some states "reaffirms" the impact of the Let's Move! campaign, First Lady Michelle Obama said today.
Mrs. Obama launched her national initiative in February of 2010, and the CDC report covers the period between 2008 and 2011.
Using federal government health survey data for 11.6 million children ages
2-4 enrolled in federally funded maternal- and child-nutrition programs, researchers analyzed forty
states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories (U.S. Virgin
Islands and Puerto Rico).
Of those, 20 reported obesity rates that held steady, and 19 saw declines, with rates going up slightly in 3 states. Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, South Dakota, and the U.S. Virgin Islands had at least a 1 percentage point decrease in their rates.
"Today’s announcement reaffirms my belief that together, we are
making a real difference in helping kids across the country get a
healthier start to life," Mrs. Obama said.
After decades of rising, obesity rates among low-income preschoolers had already started to level off from 2003 through 2008, according to CDC. Children are categorized as obese if their BMI is at or above the 95th percentile
for children of the same age and sex according to the 2000 CDC Growth
About one in eight or 12% of preschoolers are obese in the US, with children "five times more likely to be overweight or obese as an
adult if they are overweight or obese between the ages of three and five
years," according to CDC.
CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. issued a
statement declaring that "obesity remains epidemic," but he added that
"while the changes are small, for the first time in a generation they
are going in the right direction."
During a Tuesday conference call with reporters, Frieden said the report shows the possibility that the nation may have reached "a tipping point."
Instead of years of steady increases or no changes in obesity rates, there is now a "true decline in many places around the United States," he said.
Other, smaller federal studies have cited some drops among
school-age children, but the new report is the largest and most
comprehensive to show declining obesity rates in poor children, CDC
officials said during the conference call.
Obama's Let's Move! campaign has a goal of reducing the national rate
of childhood obesity, currently at about 17%, to just 5% by 2030.
In June of 2011, Mrs. Obama launched Let's Move! Childcare, a program specifically designed for early childhood intervention. There are now 10,000 childcare programs participating, she said.
"We know how
essential it is to set our youngest children on a path towards a
lifetime of healthy eating and physical activity, and more than 10,000
childcare programs participating in the Let’s Move! Child Care
initiative are doing vitally important work on this front," Mrs. Obama said.
CDC officials said the decline noted in the report is most likely attributable to three broad trends: More fresh fruit and vegetables, instead of sugary juices, are among the healthier foods now mandated in the federally funded maternal- and child-nutrition programs.
There has also been an increase in breast-feeding, which some research associates with a lower risk of child obesity. And public awareness of health and physical fitness programs could also be making a difference, they said.
this announcement reflects important progress, we also know that there
is tremendous work still to be done to support healthy futures for all
our children," Mrs. Obama said.
"It’s a bright spot for our nation’s young kids, but the fight is far from over," said Frieden.
Let's Move! Executive Director Sam Kass blogged about the report on the LetsMove.gov site.
"The evidence is in, and we could not be more excited!" Kass wrote, but added that "while this evidence shows we’re on the right track, it continues to be a call to action."
Researchers used the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System for the report, officially titled Vital Signs: Obesity Among Low-Income, Preschool-Aged Children — United States, 2008–2011. Forty states, the District of Columbia and the U.S.
Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are included. CLICK HERE for the full report and CDC's recommendations for action.
*Photo by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama. Mrs. Obama visited preschoolers at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., on May 19, 2010.