As a journalist, I’m skeptical when I read about the latest report showing remarkable progress or “breakthrough results”. All too often the test group is much too small to really demonstrate large sweeping results.
So it’s with a somewhat jaded view that I read the news that there’s been a large drop in childhood obesity.
This report, outlines in the New York Times, says that been a 43 percent drop in the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade. The drop emerged from a major federal health survey that experts say is the gold standard for evidence on what Americans weigh.
Childhood obesity has become a serious issue for the very young. Sadly, Children who are overweight or obese at 3 to 5 years old are five times as likely to be overweight or obese as adults.
Approximately 8 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds were obese in 2012, down from 14 percent in 2004.
“This is the first time we’ve seen any indication of any significant decrease in any group,” said Cynthia L. Ogden, a researcher for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the lead author of the report, which will be published in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, on Wednesday.
Very young children make up just a tiny fraction of the American population. The figures for the broader society have remained flat, even increasing for women over 60. The federal survey found that a third of adults and 17 percent of youths are obese.
So headlines shouting that “we’ve turned the corner” on obesity or made great strides call victory much too soon. These modest results are encouraging, but there’s a great deal of work yet to be done. At least the report shows that we’re moving in the right direction somewhat. Now if we can just keep stepping forward in every category of our population, THAT would be good news.