Childhood obesity is a public health concern and it disproportionately affects children living in low-income families. Childhood obesity often persists into adulthood and carries with it risk for many costly and chronic diseases. Childhood obesity can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Recent modest declines in the pervasiveness of severe obesity among young children enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) suggest some progress in tackling this public health concern among low-income children.
‘Improving the entire family's diet and exercise habits is one of the best ways to achieve a healthy weight in the child.’Data for 22.6 million young children ages 2 to 4 enrolled in WIC from 2000 to 2014; data analysis conducted in 2017. The prevalence of severe obesity among the children whose weights and heights were measured; prevalence is a measure of the proportion of a population affected. This is a cross-sectional study that used data to assess the association between severe obesity among children enrolled in WIC to report prevalence estimates.
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Liping Pan, M.D., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, is the main author of the study.
The proportion of severe obesity among children ages 2 to 4 enrolled in WIC increased from 2000 to 2004 and decreased from 2004 to 2014, with the dip between 2010 and 2014 occurring among all demographic groups.
The study is not representative of children from families of all income levels and also may not be representative of all low-income children ages to 2 to 4 because only about half of young children eligible for WIC are enrolled.
This study provides updated information on recent declines in the prevalence of severe obesity among young children enrolled in WIC but ongoing surveillance is needed to see whether these declines continue.