Childhood Obesity Drops in US Cities
Experts stunned, see a big shift in fight against epidemic
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Dec 11, 2012 9:05 AM CST
Elementary school students look at fruits and vegetables during a school lunch program in Palo Alto, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(Newser) – For the first time in decades, a number of US cities are reporting a decline in childhood obesity rates—an unexpected shift that had researchers checking and re-checking their data. Big cities have seen dips: Between 2007 and 2011, the rate fell 5.5% in New York, 5% in Philadelphia, and 3% in Los Angeles. Smaller cities like Anchorage have also seen rates drop. "It’s been nothing but bad news for 30 years, so the fact that we have any good news is a big story," says New York's health commissioner.

In fact, it could herald a change in the obesity trend, the New York Times reports. But the reasons for the shift remain unclear. Scientists aren't sure Michelle Obama-style programs to fight obesity are effective, and researchers don't know if kids are losing weight or if fewer obese children are starting school, the Times notes. Still, with 17% of those under age 20 obese, cities like Philadelphia have made big pushes against the epidemic, ridding school cafeterias of deep fryers and removing sugary drinks from school vending machines. Now, "the needle is actually moving," says a researcher.

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Showing 3 of 27 comments
Dec 12, 2012 5:06 PM CST
When you have families with parents working two and three jobs, and still not making the can bet it is the fact they can not eat 3 meals a day. Double edge sword because being poor means they are subject to eating unhealthy in the first place. So what is better eating unhealthy or not eating at all? I think I would rather have a constant hunger pain, then not be able to run up a flight of stairs.
Dec 11, 2012 4:16 PM CST
These "eat healthier" campaigns might have an effect, but there needs to be some serious look into whether it's caused by the fact that families can't afford food nowadays. Especially in inner-city schools, the meal at lunchtime is one of the only meals a lot of children receive.
Dec 11, 2012 11:42 AM CST
Go ahead, slam Michelle Obama, you conservative dimwits - you wouldn't acknowledge something done right if it bit you in the ass...oh, and the study suggests decreasing rates in major cities...what about people living below the Bubba Belt?