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Thursday, Jan 03 2013 11:00 PM

Among preschoolers, progress in obesity fight

By The Bakersfield Californian

Researchers have some good news to report on the child obesity front: The epidemic has dipped slightly in preschoolers. The study looked at 27 million low-income children between the ages of 2 and 4. The group's obesity rate dropped very slightly from 15.2 percent in 2003 to 14.94 percent in 2010. Though it's too soon to say the findings by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a trend, it's a promising sign after so many years of increasing obesity rates.

Breast-feeding, which is known to reduce obesity risk in children, has increased among low-income mothers by about 10 percent in recent years, but researchers believe other factors may also be contributing to the decrease. For example, the nutrition program WIC has stopped subsidizing sugary juice in favor of whole fruits and vegetables. Nutritious foods and exercise are now more common in child care programs, which more than half of the nation's preschoolers are enrolled in. Researchers suggest we could see steeper declines in obesity if similar restrictions on sugary drinks were applied to the nation's food stamp program.

Though it's a small dip, this new study is in line with others that have shown a leveling-off or decline in childhood obesity rates. That offers encouragement to continue the fight against obesity, and promote healthy eating and physical activity for children at home, at school and in our communities.

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