Decrease in Obesity Among Young US Children Enrolled in Special Supplemental Nutrition Program 2010-2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Liping Pan, MD, MPH Epidemiologist Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Pan

Liping Pan, MD, MPH
Epidemiologist
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Children with severe obesity face significant health and social challenges. Children with obesity are at higher risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. They also have more risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance, and high cholesterol than their healthyweight peers. Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than their healthyweight peers. They are also more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem. Children with obesity are also more likely to have obesity as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems. Adult obesity is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancers. 

Childhood obesity is more common among children from lower-income families, as many lack access to healthy, affordable foods and beverages and opportunities for low-cost physical activity.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: Obesity declined among children from low-income families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Obesity among WIC-enrolled 2-4 year olds decreased from 15.9 percent in 2010 to 13.9 percent in 2016. Between 2010 – 2016, boys and girls, ages 2-4, of major race/ethnic groups saw modest improvements in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among young children enrolled in WIC.

MedicalResearch.com: What contributed to the decline?

Response: The explanation for the observed downward trends is complex with a number of factors likely contributing to the decreases in prevalence of severe obesity. A number of federal programs promoted healthful food choices and increased support for families and communities. One example is the USDA Child Nutrition Programs, including the Federal WIC Program that promotes healthy eating and nutrition education. The USDA revised WIC food packages in 2009 to include more fruits, vegetables, and whole wheat foods. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Although these modest declines are encouraging, too many young children are struggling with obesity and those with obesity face significant health and social challenges. Obesity affects 93.3 million American adults and 13.7 million American children. Children with obesity are at higher risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. Because of the short and long-term health risks associated with obesity, it is important to continue to support obesity prevention efforts in our communities across the nation.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Future monitoring of obesity and related health behaviors will help determine if the downward trend will continue.

Any disclosures?

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official positions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the US Department of Agriculture. 

Citation:

Pan L, Freedman DS, Park S, Galuska DA, Potter A, Blanck HM. Changes in Obesity Among US Children Aged 2 Through 4 Years Enrolled in WIC During 2010-2016. JAMA. 2019;321(23):2364–2366. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.5051

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