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New CDC Vital Signs: Obesity Declines Among Low-Income Preschoolers

Nineteen states and territories reported decreases in obesity among low-income preschoolers. Twenty states and Puerto Rico held steady at their current rate, and obesity increased slightly in three states. Still, 1 in 8 preschoolers is obese in the U.S. Children are five times more likely to be obese as an adult if they are overweight or obese between the ages of three and five years. Obesity in early childhood increases the risk of high cholesterol, high blood sugar, asthma and mental health problems later in childhood and adolescence.

CDC is encouraging state and local officials to step up efforts to drive down rates of childhood obesity. Business leaders, childcare providers, healthcare providers, communities, and families are some of the groups that influence nutrition and physical activity in the places where young children live, learn, and play. State and local officials can assist these groups by:

  • Making it easier for families to buy healthy, affordable foods and beverages in their neighborhoods.
  • Helping provide access to safe, free drinking water in places such as community parks, recreation areas, child care centers, and schools.
  • Helping local schools open gyms, playgrounds, and sports fields during non-school hours so children can play safely after school, on weekends, and over the summer.
  • Helping child care providers adopt best practices for improving nutrition and physical activity and for limiting computer and television time.
  • Creating partnerships with civic leaders, child care providers, and others to make community changes that promote healthy eating and active living.

For more information on childhood obesity, visit CDC Childhood Overweight and Obesity.

Graphics / Images

  • Infographic: Children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are 5 times as likely as normal-weight children to be overweight or obese as adults.

    Children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are 5 times as likely as normal-weight children to be overweight or obese as adults.

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  • Infographic: Obesity among low-income preschoolers declined, from 2008 through 2011, in 19 of the 43 states and territories studied.

    Obesity among low-income preschoolers declined, from 2008 through 2011, in 19 of the 43 states and territories studied.

    This is a description for image 1

  • Infographic: About one in eight preschoolers is obese in the United States.

    About one in eight preschoolers is obese in the United States.
    Children are considered obese if their Body Mass Index is at or above the ninety-fifth percentile for children of the same age and sex according to the 2000 CDC Growth Charts.

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  • Infographic: Many states and United States territories are showing decreases in childhood obesity.

    Many states and United States territories are showing decreases in childhood obesity.
    Text Equivalent Version

    This is a description for image 1

  • Infographic: Many states and United States territories are showing decreases in childhood obesity.

    This graph shows national obesity rates among low-income preschoolers aged 2-4 years old from 1990 to 2011. The graph shows the steady increase in obesity rates starting at 10 percent in 1990 and continuing to rise up to 14.9 in 2007, but then starting to decrease down to 14.4 in 2011. The graph is showing that after decades of rising obesity rates among low-income preschoolers, we have started to see declines in obesity rates from 2008 through 2011.

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  • Infographic: Many states and United States territories are showing decreases in childhood obesity.

    Many states and United States territories are showing decreases in childhood obesity.
    Text Equivalent Version

    This is a description for image 1

  • Infographic: Many states and United States territories are showing decreases in childhood obesity.

    Obesity rates among low-income preschoolers decreased in many states
    Text Equivalent Version

    This is a description for image 1

  • Photo: Young boy playing on a swing set

    Previous research shows that about one in eight preschoolers is obese in the United States

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  • Photo: Young girl playing on a swing set

    Children are five times more likely to be overweight or obese as an adult if they are overweight or obese between the ages of three and five years.

    This is a description for image 1

  • Photo: Young boy playing in a  lake

    Obesity in early childhood increases the risk of serious health problems for life.

    This is a description for image 1

  • Photo: Young boy eating a slice of  melon

    CDC is encouraging state and local officials to step up efforts to drive down rates of childhood obesity.

    This is a description for image 1

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286
media@cdc.gov

Spokespersons

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH

Biography

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH

Although obesity remains epidemic, the tide has begun to turn for some kids in some states. While the changes are small, for the first time in a generation they are going in the right direction. Obesity in early childhood increases the risk of serious health problems for life.

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH - Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Janet L. Collins, PhD

Biography

Photo: Janet L. Collins, PhD

Many of the states in which we’re seeing declines have taken action to incorporate healthy eating and active living into children’s lives. We must continue to strengthen and expand proven strategies that help our children live healthier lives by avoiding obesity in the first place.

Janet L. Collins, PhD - Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

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