Prevalence of Severe Obesity Drops for First Time Among All Age, Sex and Race/Ethnic Groups Interview with:
Liping Pan, MD, MPH
Epidemiology & Surveillance Team
Obesity Prevention and Control Branch
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion
CDC What is the background for this study?

Response: Children with severe obesity face significant health and social challenges. Children with obesity and severe 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 like high blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance, and high cholesterol than their normal weight peers.

These lifelong health risks associated with severe obesity during early childhood indicate the importance of preventing and identifying severe obesity. Childhood obesity disproportionately affects children living in low-income families. However, no recent trends on severe obesity in this population have been reported. What are the main findings?

Response: This study found modest declines in severe obesity among young children from low-income families, which suggests progress on this important public health issue. This study looked at the prevalence of severe obesity among children enrolled in Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). It included 22.6 million children, ages 2-4, from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 5 US Territories. During 2010 to 2014, the prevalence of severe obesity decreased significantly overall, from 2.12% to 1.96%. For the first time, the decrease between 2010 and 2014 was statistically significant in all age, sex, and racial/ethnic subgroups studied. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings indicate recent progress in reducing the prevalence of severe obesity among young U.S. children enrolled in WIC. Although these modest declines are encouraging, too many young children are struggling with obesity and severe obesity. Continuing to support changes in healthcare, early care and education, and community settings that promote good nutrition and physical activity may be important to further reduce obesity and severe obesity in young children. Culturally appropriate intervention efforts focusing on low-income children and their caregivers should also be considered to continue addressing the needs of those who are disproportionately impacted by childhood obesity. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

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

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. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Pan L, Park S, Slayton R, Goodman AB, Blanck HM. Trends in Severe Obesity Among Children Aged 2 to 4 Years Enrolled in Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children From 2000 to 2014. JAMA Pediatr. Published online January 08, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.4301

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.


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Last Updated on January 12, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD

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