Health

Childhood obesity rates down in several U.S. Cities and States

According to a new study by the Robert Wood Foundation, obesity rates for children in several U.S. cities and states have declined, including in New York City, where our anti-obesity and girls’ physical activity program, GoGirlGo!, is based. New York City is joined by Mississippi, California, Philadelphia, El Paso and Anchorage on the list – all cities and states who implemented changes early to school nutrition and activity in schools.

"We've had 30 years of increasing rates of obesity, but we might be seeing the turning point for this epidemic," says pediatrician James Marks, a senior vice president for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which issued a summary report on the topic .

A 2010 law directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update the national nutrition standards for all food served in schools. The changes that went into effect this year mean students are being offered healthier options and slightly fewer calories at lunch, says Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

According to the study, the following statistics were found:

- In Mississippi, the percentage of children in grades K-5 who were obese or overweight fell from about 43% in 2007 to 37.3% in 2011. (Mississippi has the highest adult obesity rate in the country.)
-- In California, obesity and overweight rates for grades 5, 7 and 9 decreased from 38.44% in 2005 to 38% in 2010.
-- In Anchorage, it declined from 38% in 2002-03 to 36% in 2010-11 for those in kindergarten through 12th grade.
-- In New York City, obesity dropped among kindergartners through 8th graders from 21.9% in 2006-07 to 20.7% in 2010-11.
-- In Philadelphia, obesity among K-12 kids decreased from 21.5% in 2006-07 to 20.5% in 2009-10.
-- In El Paso, obesity among fourth-graders decreased from 25.5% in 2000-02 to 18.8% in 2004-05.

Our GoGirlGo! curriculum is an award-winning program that works to improve the health of sedentary girls and keeps girls involved in physical activity. It is offered nation-wide and free of charge. Learn more here.

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