Good news! Childhood obesity rates in several cities are decreasing.
According to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, data from recent years indicates that national childhood obesity rates are no longer increasing. In Philadelphia, New York City, Mississippi, and California, the obesity rate among children declined. All four places have had strong anti-obesity campaigns in place for several years.
Mississippi leads the pack with a 13.3% decline since 2005 among children ages 5-11. Mississippi limited the type of foods and beverages that could be sold in school vending machines in 2006. In 2007, the state increased the amount of physical education in schools and required them to develop health education programs.
Other programs targeting childhood obesity include the Color Me Healthy program in childcare facilities and the Fruits and Veggies – More Matters program in workplaces, schools, and health fairs.
Philadelphia and New York City also experienced a reduction in childhood obesity by 4.7% and 5.5%. Both cities have focused on improving school nutrition. Philadelphia has worked to bring supermarkets to food deserts, helping low-income families gain access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and making food stamps accepted by farmers’ market.
New York City has implemented similar initiatives, such as the Green Cart and Healthy Bucks programs to bring local produce into low-income areas and a requirement for increased physical activity and better nutrition standards in daycare facilities. New York City also worked to improve school nutrition.
Being overweight as a child increases the risk of being overweight as an adult, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases. It’s not easy to come up with solutions and not all ideas will work, but it looks like we now have proof that at least some ideas work.
Healthy school lunch photo via Shutterstock