Obesity may be declining among preschool-aged children living in low-income families

"Obesity and extreme obesity in childhood, which are more prevalent among minority and low-income families, have been associated with other cardiovascular risk factors, increased health care costs, and premature death. Obesity and extreme obesity during early childhood are likely to continue into adulthood. Understanding trends in extreme obesity is important because the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors increases with severity of childhood obesity," writes Liping Pan, M.D., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues. National trends in extreme obesity among young children living in low-income families have not been known.

As reported in a Research Letter, the authors analyzed data from the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System (PedNSS), which includes almost 50 percent of children eligible for federally funded and nutrition programs. The analysis for this study included 26.7 million children ages 2 through 4 years from 30 states and the District of Columbia that consistently reported data to PedNSS from 1998 through 2010. One routine clinic visit with demographic information and measured height and weight was randomly selected for each child. Obesity ( [BMI] 95th percentile or greater for age and sex) and extreme obesity (BMI 120 percent or greater of the 95th percentile) were defined according to the 2000 CDC growth charts.

The 2010 study population was slightly younger and had proportionally more Hispanics and fewer non-Hispanic whites and blacks compared with the 1998 population. The researchers found that the prevalence of obesity increased from 13.05 percent in 1998 to 15.21 percent in 2003. The prevalence of extreme obesity increased from 1.75 percent in 1998 to 2.22 percent in 2003. However, the prevalence of obesity decreased slightly to 14.94 percent in 2010; and the prevalence of extreme obesity decreased to 2.07 percent in 2010.

"To our knowledge, this is the first national study to show that the and extreme obesity among young U.S. children may have begun to decline," the authors write. "The results of this study indicate modest recent progress of obesity prevention among young children. These findings may have important health implications because of the lifelong health risks of obesity and extreme obesity in early childhood."

More information: JAMA. 2012;308[24]:2563-2565.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Extreme obesity affecting more children at younger ages

Mar 18, 2010

Extreme obesity is affecting more children at younger ages, with 12 percent of black teenage girls, 11.2 percent of Hispanic teenage boys, 7.3 percent of boys and 5.5 percent of girls now classified as extremely obese, according ...

Recommended for you

Gut bacteria promote obesity in mice

Sep 30, 2014

A species of gut bacteria called Clostridium ramosum, coupled with a high-fat diet, may cause animals to gain weight. The work is published this week in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiol ...

An apple a day could keep obesity away

Sep 29, 2014

Scientists at Washington State University have concluded that nondigestible compounds in apples – specifically, Granny Smith apples – may help prevent disorders associated with obesity. The study, thought ...

Boosting purchasing power to lower obesity rates

Sep 25, 2014

In January, as one of the first major initiatives of the Academic Vision, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity will move to UConn from Yale University. The move will allow Rudd faculty to expand their work and build ...

Note to young men: Fat doesn't pay

Sep 23, 2014

Men who are already obese as teenagers could grow up to earn up to 18 percent less than their peers of normal weight. So says Petter Lundborg of Lund University, Paul Nystedt of Jönköping University and ...

Waistlines of US adults continue to increase

Sep 16, 2014

The prevalence of abdominal obesity and average waist circumference increased among U.S. adults from 1999 to 2012, according to a study in the September 17 issue of JAMA.

User comments