Hope­ful sign in obe­sity fight? Chubby ba­bies on the de­cline

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -


A de­cline in chubby ba­bies and tod­dlers is pro­vid­ing a glim­mer of good news in the na­tion’s fight against obe­sity. The trend was found in a study of chil­dren up to age 2 en­rolled in a gov­ern­ment nu­tri­tion as­sis­tance pro­gram for low-in­come women and chil­dren. Half of all US in­fants up to 12 months old are en­rolled in the pro­gram.

The rate of young­sters at risk for obe­sity fell dur­ing the study, from al­most 15 per­cent in 2010 to 12 per­cent over­all in 2014, re­searchers from the fed­eral Cen­ters of Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion re­ported Tues­day in the jour­nal Pe­di­atrics.

The rate de­clined in all ages stud­ied. It was low­est - about 8 per­cent in 2014 for the youngest in­fants, from 3 to 5 months, ver­sus al­most 15 per­cent among tod­dlers. The re­sults were un­ex­pected, given ris­ing rates ear­lier in the decade, said CDC re­searcher David Freed­man, the lead au­thor. “Peo­ple are thrilled,” he said.

Echo­ing re­ports

Freed­man said rea­sons are un­cer­tain for the de­cline, but it came amid changes de­signed to im­prove nu­tri­tion and health in food pack­ages, in­clud­ing more whole grains, fruits and veg­eta­bles. Also, breast­feed­ing among par­tic­i­pat­ing women in­creased in 2009 and that can pro­tect against obe­sity.

The re­sults echo a re­ported de­cline in older chil­dren in the pro­gram, re­ferred to as WIC for women, in­fants and chil­dren. Also pre­vi­ous CDC data showed a sim­i­lar de­cline in all US young­sters from 2 to 5 years old, from about 14 per­cent in 2004 to 9 per­cent in 2014, co­in­cid­ing with na­tional cam­paigns tar­get­ing child­hood obe­sity. Obe­sity rates tend to be higher in chil­dren from low-in­come fam­i­lies in­clud­ing WIC par­tic­i­pants.

Dr. David Lud­wig, di­rec­tor of obe­sity pre­ven­tion at Bos­ton Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal, called the re­sults en­cour­ag­ing but said, “It’s too soon to tell whether th­ese new data rep­re­sent a sta­tis­ti­cal fluke or ev­i­dence of real progress with the pe­di­atric obe­sity epi­demic. “

The re­searchers an­a­lyzed WIC sur­vey data from 2000 to 2014 in­volv­ing al­most 17 mil­lion in­fants and young chil­dren. Rates in­creased early on, then re­mained sta­ble from 2004 to 2010 un­til the de­cline.

Doc­tors don’t usu­ally de­scribe ba­bies as obese, but mea­sure their risk us­ing a weight-for-length ra­tio. Those with a high ra­tio, gen­er­ally heav­ier than 95 per­cent of their peers, face an in­creased chance of be­com­ing obese later on.

Whether the de­cline has con­tin­ued is un­cer­tain and the study didn’t track in­fants to see if they be­came over­weight or obese later on. Ac­cord­ing to the CDC, US obe­sity rates to­tal al­most 18 per­cent among all 6- to 11-year-olds and nearly 21 per­cent among 12- to 19year-olds. —AP

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