For the first time, a major government report says US child obesity rates are declining among low-income children, the New York Times reports. The decline is minimal—no more than 1% in any state—but the CDC's analysis of 12 million children age 2 to 4 from 40 states is still encouraging. Cities had already reported a slight turnaround in the child obesity epidemic, but always among white children and families in the middle or upper income bracket.
What's behind the new numbers is anyone's guess. Analysts cite better education, government programs, more women breastfeeding, and the notion that poor American children with a genetic predisposition to obesity are already fat. Shannon Freeland, a 35-year-old low-income mother, points to education, saying she and her friends are learning more about health by going back to school during tough economic times. "I think parents have changed," she says. "Our income may still be low, but we’re more educated."