Dr. Maureen Black, Children’s HealthWatch Principal Investigator, spoke to TakePart about new findings on early childhood obesity.
Is Childhood Obesity Really on Its Way Down?
So obesity still goes up the older a child gets and is stagnant or rising among adults. What’s more, obesity is still high among low-income children. These facts are supported in a forthcoming paper from Children’s HealthWatch that will be presented at the Pediatric Academic Society conference in Vancouver in May. The researchers, who studied more than 15,000 children from low-income families in five cities between 2009 and 2012, found that while babies under 13 months had an obesity rate of under 8 percent, the number shot up to around 12 percent in children ages 2 to 3. On the positive side, Children’s HealthWatch researchers found that children living in families that receive federal nutrition assistance such as Women, Infants, and Children or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program were no more likely to be obese than non–food insecure children.
“WIC has played a major role in educating families about healthy nutrition and feeding practices for young children,” says Dr. Maureen Black of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a principal investigator for Children’s HealthWatch. “The revised WIC food package introduced in October 2009 provides more support to breast-feeding mothers and increased access to fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and reduced-fat milk. WIC also emphasizes responsive feeding, whereby parents (not children) choose the foods that are offered and children decide what to eat relying on their regulatory cues, not pressuring.”
While Black adds that much work in the fight against childhood obesity remains—especially relating to “ever-present sugary beverages and junk food”—she calls this week’s report “very exciting.”