A Boston-based study on childhood obesity indicates that childhood obesity in Massachusetts may have dropped sharply between 2004 and 2008. This is welcome news for parents and other advocates of improving the overall health of children across the country, and a step in the right direction in the fight against childhood obesity.
The study, performed by the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Institute, only analyzes data for children up to age 5. Obesity rates dropped sharply for both boys and girls in this age range. According to Education Week, “the researchers hypothesize that increased breastfeeding, a reduction of maternal smoking during pregnancy, and changes in advertising of sugary snacks to children could all have played a role in the decline.”
Schools and Parents Both Play a Role
Since the children addressed in this particular study are so young, it is most likely family influences that contributed to the weight loss. For older children, influences from school and friends are often leading contributors to obesity. Eliminating soda vending machines from school cafeterias and requiring all students to take weekly P.E. classes are just a couple ways that schools have recently stepped up to combat the obesity problem. Conflicting data makes it difficult to know whether or not schools’ efforts are actually helping or not — but they certainly can’t hurt.
Whatever the reason for drop in obesity in very young children, it is an encouraging sign. If parents and schools can work together and implement effective ways to keep these kids on the right path, obesity rates will be poised to drop across all ages within the next few decades.
How can we keep this trend going?
Although a 5-year-old may not yet be obese, our society certainly presents a number of ways for him or her to steadily gain weight throughout childhood. What are some ways that schools and parents can prevent children from becoming obese? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Photo credit: gemsling