Study shows obesity in young children declined in past decade - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Study shows obesity in young children declined in past decade

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

After decades of an increasing childhood obesity rate there's some good news. A new study was released Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. There's been a slight decrease in obesity rates in aAerica's youngest children.

At least once a week Devon Lee rounds up her kids and heads to the gym.  She wants them to learn healthy habits at a young age.

"I just lost my mother this month, my father eight years ago," said Lee. "Both of them from obesity. Diabetes. Kidney failure. Heart disease. You name it, they had it. And I just want them to have a long, healthy life."

For years the country has seen an increase in obesity rates, especially among young children from poor families. Many organizations, including the YMCA, have been fighting the trend.

"Childhood obesity is one of our prime objectives," said Todd Michael Hirst, Director of Marketing at the Helen G. Nassif YMCA in Cedar Rapids.  "We've been trying to meet in reducing that with lots of programs for kids. And it has been going down very slightly."

The hard work many have put in may finally be starting to pay off.

In 2003 obesity among 2-4 year olds eligible for federally funded health and nutrition programs was at 15.21 percent. In 2010, it dropped to 14.945 percent.

And while that's still higher than it was in 1998, YMCA workers say the lower numbers may mean changes to federal food assistance programs are working.

"A lot of programs have changed up the food options to have less sodium, to have less sugar," said Hirst.  "To have less calories but actually have more nutrients and be more nutritious. And so I think you're actually seeing that change in the diet start reducing those childhood obesity rates."

And of course, diet and exercise go hand in hand.  So it's also a positive sign that the YMCA has been seeing more kids getting active.

Extreme obesity in children also decreased, from 2.22 percent in 2003 to 2.07 percent in 2010, although that's still higher than the numbers were in 1998 when the study began.

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