The following is a statement from Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, regarding the November 12 release of obesity rate data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The obesity data released on November 12 by the CDC illustrates that the nation continues to struggle with an obesity crisis—but it also reveals an important sign of progress. The obesity rate is declining for the youngest children and has held steady for all children over the last two measurement periods. This reinforces our confidence that America’s children are moving toward a healthier weight, and that bodes well for the long-term health of our nation.
When we made our first $500 million commitment eight years ago to reverse the obesity epidemic in children, there were no signs of hope like those in today’s report.
That’s not to say that we can cheer this report. The obesity rate for adults is much too high and is continuing to rise, and rates are highest among Hispanic and black teenagers and adults. What's more, women have overtaken men in the obese category.
We will continue to address these inequities and the many barriers to growing up and living a healthy life. Nutritious, affordable foods are out of reach for too many families, young people still see far too many ads for sugar-laden snack foods and beverages, and too few of our communities provide adequate, safe and accessible spaces for kids to be active.
There are no easy solutions or quick fixes to these problems. To change policies, and lifestyles, requires a long-term commitment. That’s why the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation pledged an additional $500 million in 2015 to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in America. We believe that getting children to a healthy weight, and keeping them there, must be a top priority if we want to permanently reverse the obesity epidemic.
I celebrate the message in this report that obesity rates for all children have remained level and are declining among the youngest kids. It’s a sign that we are beginning to see a turn in the right direction; now we must redouble our collective efforts to make sure this trend continues. I look forward to seeing all of America’s children, no matter where they live or who they are, grow up at a healthy weight and thrive.