From our friends at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation today released an updated collection of stories and reports from a growing number of states, cities and counties that have measured declines in their childhood obesity rates. The most recent reports come from a diverse set of areas, including, St. Cloud, Minnesota; Cherokee County, South Carolina; Seminole County, Florida; Southern California; Colorado; New Mexico; and Philadelphia. The latest declines vary by location and across age groups, but generally were measured since the mid-2000s and range from a 6.3 percent decline among K-12 students in Philadelphia to a 24 percent decline among 12 year-olds in St. Cloud.
In total, there are reports from more than 30 locations, including from 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where measurements were taken among preschool children from low-income families enrolled in federal health and nutrition programs from 2008 to 2011. The places reporting declining rates have applied a wide range of strategies and implemented a number of policies to make healthy foods and beverages available in schools and communities and add physical activity into daily life.
“These signs of progress confirm that we can make a difference, show us what’s working, and inspire new ideas,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of RWJF. “We cannot underestimate the work that remains to help all children grow up at a healthy weight, but we do know how to move the needle. It’s time to take that knowledge to scale. Our nation’s future depends on it.”
The latest additions to RWJF’s Signs of Progress feature include:
While the national childhood obesity rate has leveled off and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a decline in obesity rates among children ages 2 to 5 over the last decade, the issue remains a severe problem for the nation’s health and budget. Nearly one in three children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese. The medical cost of adult obesity in the United States is estimated at $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year.
Childhood obesity disproportionately affects communities of color, and in communities with high levels of poverty, families often lack access to healthy foods and beverages and safe places to be physically active. In 2011-2014, the national obesity rate was 14.7 percent among white youth, 19.5 percent among black youth, and 21.9 percent among Hispanic youth.
“Far too many families don’t have access to affordable healthy foods or safe places to play—this is especially true in poorer communities and communities of color,” said Lavizzo-Mourey. “The progress we’ve seen is not shared equally and that’s unacceptable. Our pressing challenge and priority moving forward is working to build an inclusive Culture of Health where all children have the opportunity to grow up at a healthy weight.”
In the coming weeks, Inside Track will feature stories from the locations reporting signs of progress. Stay tuned!