A major study published in JAMA marks another important sign of progress toward reversing our nation’s childhood obesity epidemic.
The obesity prevalence among 2 to 5 year olds has dropped by approximately 40 percent in 8 years—from 14 percent in 2003-04 to 8.4 percent in 2011-12. This is especially encouraging because preventing obesity early in life helps young people maintain a healthy weight into adulthood.
The study, which provides the most current national estimates of childhood obesity and analyzes trends over time among various age groups, shows that the overall rates of obesity and overweight among America’s young people have not changed since 2003-04. In 2011-12, 16.9 percent of children and teens were obese and 31.8 percent were overweight or obese.
The study also confirms that a troubling disparities gap continues to persist. Rates of obesity and overweight remained highest among Black and Hispanic youths. This was true across all age groups, and serves as a reminder of the crucial work that remains. Too many children still lack the opportunity to attain good health.