Are We Winning the War Against Childhood Obesity?

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.

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Photo credit: gemsling

22 comments

Jessica K.
Jessica K.2 years ago

Well, this sounds like it could be a small step in the right direction, but it's only one study and one state. Thanks.

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Thomas P.
Thomas P.4 years ago

Thanks

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

no, i don't think we are. I rarely see a healthy looking child. They are all so overweight. It's sickening and disheartening

Simon B.
Simon B.4 years ago

If we have so much more time these days, get the young 'uns involved in making their own food. And I agree about fresh ingredients, including (look away veggies) free-range meat.

Though I'm still holding out for them to start mass-producing Shmeat! :)

Callie J.
Callie Johnson4 years ago

For whoever advocated exercising after eating, here's what Dr. Dean Ornish had to say: "Dr. Dean Ornish answered: "It's not a good idea to swim after eating. Or, for that matter, to do any kind of strenuous exercise on a full stomach. Your body is continually making decisions regarding where to send blood. Some organs, like your brain, always have priority and are assured of getting enough blood flow except in the most dire circumstances. Blood flow to other organs, such as your muscles or your digestive system, can vary considerably during the day. When you eat a big meal, your digestive system tells the brain, "Hey, send more blood down here - we've got a lot of work to do!" When you run, your legs tell your brain the same thing. There isn't enough extra blood to do both jobs adequately, so if you run on a full stomach, you may find that your legs will cramp or your stomach will begin to hurt. This is one reason why people who have heart disease sometimes experience chest pain following a big meal. Enough blood is shunted away from the heart to the stomach that it can lead to chest pain."

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V.4 years ago

There are none so blind that will not see. What will it take to go after the problem instead of the side effects? Stay in the dark and see how fast the family farms and fresh food disappears.

Donna B.
Donna B.4 years ago

We are not winning the war but I think it's getting better.

DeAnna Collins
DeAnna Collins4 years ago

I'm sorry but with all the sugary food advertised to our kids I don't think obesity will decrease over the next ten years.

John Mansky
John Mansky4 years ago

We are what we eat! Thank you...