The W.K. Kellogg Foundation welcomes the release of new federal data showing a 43 percent decline in obesity rates among children ages two to five over the past decade. The findings of the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey are in line with data released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed a broad decline in obesity rates for low-income preschoolers.
Among possible reasons for the decline, researchers and experts pointed to improved nutrition and physical activity standards at child care centers, decreasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, changes in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and increased breastfeeding rates, noting that breastfeeding has been shown to help fight obesity in young children.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, corroborate with WKKF grantee efforts in maternal and child health and breastfeeding initiatives, along with programs that increase access to fresh, nutritious food in child care and preschool settings, as well as our support of Partnership for a Healthier America and the Let’s Move! Initiative, all efforts aimed at giving kids a healthy start.
The good news for children ages two to five is tempered by a lack of significant change reported in obesity rates for youth and adults. Yet the declining rate for young children is especially important because it is during these early years that obesity patterns become established.