Childhood Obesity Drops in Some US Areas

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Efforts to reduce childhood obesity rates are starting to pay off in some parts of the United States, according to a recent report.

New York City, Philadelphia and parts of California and Mississippi have all seen decreases in their childhood obesity rates in recent years, according to the report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Between 2006 and 2011, the obesity rate among school children fell by about 5 percent in New York City and Philadelphia.

"It's been nothing but bad news for 30 years, so the fact that we have any good news is a big story," Dr. Thomas Farley, the New York City health commissioner, told the New York Times in an article today (Dec. 11) about the obesity decline.

The parts of the country that are seeing declines are those that have taken particularly  aggressive actions to address childhood obesity, the report says.

For instance, Philadelphia schools stopped selling sugary drinks in vending machines in 2004, and stopped using deep fryers in cafeterias by 2009, according to the New York Times.

New York City has put nutrition standards in place to improve food sold in schools, and the city requires day care centers to offer physical activity.

However, progress has not been uniform among ethnic groups. White populations have seen the largest declines, with smaller drops seen among minorities.

"Growing evidence suggests that strong, far-reaching changes — those that make healthy foods available in schools and communities and integrate physical activity into people's daily lives — are working to reduce childhood obesity rates," the report, published in September, says. "More efforts are needed to implement these types of sweeping changes nationwide and to address the health disparities gap that exists among underserved communities and populations."

The obesity rate for U.S. children and teens was 17 percent in 2009 and 2010, according to a study published by the American Medical Association earlier this year.

Pass it on: Childhood obesity rates are declining in some parts of the country.

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Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.