Obesity rates in young children down …. somewhat

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Obesity Initiative at UGA

Boy eating burger; free but publish attribution;  image courtesy of tiverylucky:FreeDigitalPhotos.net  ID-100176661The rate of obesity in young U.S. children has fallen 43 percent in the last decade, according to reports last week by the New York Times, the Washington Post and a variety of other outlets.

That’s encouraging news for a country making efforts to reduce childhood obesity through programs like Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

However, as this Slate article notes, the 43 percent figure is a little misleading.

The figure comes from a study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers that was published last week.

The data show that the obesity rate for 2-to-5-year-old children in the U.S. decreased from 14 percent in 2003-2004 to slightly over 8 percent in 2011-2012.

That’s a change of only 6 percentage points, but a relative change of 43 percent, as Slate explains. In other words, 14 percent is 43 percent greater than 8 percent. The difference isn’t quite as striking as last week’s headlines made it seem.

On a more encouraging note, the same data suggest the overall prevalence of obesity in the U.S. didn’t increase over the last ten years, so that’s something. Obesity rates were 17 percent in youth and 35 percent in adults in 2011-2012, which is not significantly different from 2003-2004 data.

The takeaway? Keep moving, America. (And check out this video of the President and Vice President doing a White House workout of their own).