Study: US Child Obesity Rate Plummets 43%

By Joe Gullo

Published 02/26 2014 11:36AM

Updated 02/26 2014 11:41AM

WASHINGTON - New data suggests significant progress in the last decade in the fight against childhood obesity.

A study focused on younger kids, when eating habits can be established, for better or worse. It's a promising sign as communities look to prevent trends that can lead to cancer and heart disease.

A new study using federal data says obesity in children between the ages of 2 and 5 has dramatically decreased, more than 40% in a decade. While exact reasons are unclear, experts say it's a promising sign.

"There's increased attention to childhood nutrition. There's increasing breast-feeding rates. Child cares are doing more physical activity," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

This report comes out just as the First Lady's Let's Move program to improve kids fitness levels and eating habits marks its 4th anniversary.

"Some folks even warned me that taking on childhood obesity might be controversial. They thought kids and parents should deal with these issues privately. Others laughed it off as not a real issue at all. Well, four years later, that all seems like ancient history," First Lady Michelle Obama said.

And now there's a new push -- the Obama Administration is proposing rules to stop marketing products in schools that the government says are not good for kids. Companies would no longer be allowed to use logos of high-calorie products such as regular soda on cups, vending machines or posters.

"And as part of this effort, we'll be eliminating advertisements for unhealthy food and beverages in our schools because I think we can all agree that our classrooms should be healthy places were our kids are not bombarded with ads for junk food," Michelle Obama said.

This could mean a change to the iconic soft drink-sponsored school sports scoreboards that pop up almost everywhere.

That's sure to fuel the complaints of some Let's Move critics, who say government needs to back off when it comes to what we eat and drink.

"It's no longer father knows best or mother knows best. It's what government knows best and that that's really the problem here," Daren Bakst, of the The Heritage Foundation, said.

In answer to the nanny state question, the Obama Administration says it distinguishes between adults and children.

And that the Let's Move program defers to local controls and local officials, but that government has an obligation to try to assure that the foods and drinks served in schools are healthy.

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