Issue: August 2013
July 09, 2013

Childhood obesity rates down in several US cities

Issue: August 2013
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Progress has been made in the efforts to curb childhood obesity, with panelists from four states and five cities or counties citing a decline in rates during an event today in the nation’s capitol, according to a press release.

“These early signs of progress are extremely promising,” Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in the release. “The leaders joining us today are showing that we can reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, and that we must continue to learn from what’s happening on the ground so we can prioritize strategies that are working.”

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD 

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

In a joint effort by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), representatives from the public, private and nonprofit sectors gathered in Washington, DC, today to share their notable accomplishments in reducing the rates of childhood obesity.

According to the press release, the decline in childhood obesity rates varies by location. However, all rates were typically measured since the mid-2000s and demonstrated a range of 1.1% decline among students in grades 5, 7 and 9 in California, to a 13% decline in K-5 students in Mississippi.

In New Mexico, the obesity rate fell 5.3% (22.6% in 2010 to 21.4% in 2012). And in West Virginia, the obesity rate dropped 8.6% (30.5% in 2005 through 2006 to 27.8% in 2011 through 2012).

Leaders from Anchorage, AK cited a 3% fall in the obesity rate (16.8% in 2003 to 2004 to 16.3% in 2010 to 2011) among students in grades kindergarten, 1, 3, 5 and 7 in the Anchorage metro area.

Granville and Vance counties in North Carolina also reported a 16.9% decline in obesity and overweight rates (from 40.1% in 2005 to 38.7% in 2009 in Granville; 31.9% in 2005 to 26.5% in 2009 in Vance).

In Kearney, Neb., public school students’ obesity rate decreased by 13.4% from 2006 to 2011.

The commissioner of the New York City Health Department also reported a 21.9% drop in obesity rates in public school students. Similarly, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health reported obesity rates dropped 21.5% from 2006 to 2009. Eastern Massachusetts also reported a decline of 21.4%.

Despite these impressive declines in childhood obesity rates, more than 23.5 million children and adolescents in the United States remain overweight or obese, according to the press release.

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