Kids May Be Healthier: Are We Doing Something Right?

Children Holding Hands on School Playground

There are indications that childhood obesity is on the decline. Maybe our kids are finally getting healthier. Or are they?

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” However, the journal Pediatrics recently reported a small but significant decline in obesity-related behaviors.

This startling observation is based on a study of 35,000 kids by researchers Iannotti and Wang while at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. They gathered data from American youngsters from 2001 to 2009, and in the final phase of the study, noted a leveling off of obesity numbers and a shift in behaviors. They found that kids are eating healthier, exercising more, and watching TV less.  

In the last five years, several studies have reached similar conclusions – that childhood obesity numbers have stabilized. But the reasons remain unclear.

Indeed, not all researchers are optimistic. While studies show that childhood obesity decreased in New York and Philadelphia by close to 5 percent between 2006 and 2010, some believe this decline demonstrates only that the number of children destined for obesity has peaked. Clearly, we need more data to determine what’s behind the trend.

Whatever the reasons for the shift, childhood obesity remains a serious public health concern, and there’s a lot more work needed to ensure our kids are actually getting healthier.

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