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Obesity Rate Among Preschoolers Decline

Update Date: Dec 27, 2012 03:14 AM EST

While children belonging to minority and lower economic classes are known to be the most likely to be obese, new data suggests that things may have taken a turn for the good, with data showing a slight decrease in the rate of obesity among such children.

It was earlier reported that the rate of extreme obesity kept rising among preschoolers from the years 1998 to 2003. However, now it seems that the situation is under control and the data indicates a decreased rate of obesity in 2010.

"We are very encouraged by this data," says study researcher Heidi M. Blanck, PhD, of the CDC in Atlanta. "It's pretty exciting and a nice turning of the tide. But we have to stay vigilant or it will go in the other direction."

For the concluded data, the researchers looked at 27.5 million children aged between 2 and 4 from the year 1998 to 2010. Most of the children participating in the study were eligible for government assistance, Web MD reported.

According to the study, childhood obesity rose from 13.05 percent in 1998 to 15.21 percent in 2003, while the 2010 data shows a fall of 14.94 percent. In the case of extreme childhood obesity, in 2003 it was 2.22 percent, while it dropped to 2.07 percent in 2010.

The good news about the data is that many of the interventions aimed at lowering rates of childhood obesity hadn't been even started or were not at its full force while the study was conducted, Blanck was quoted as saying by Web MD.

Obesity epidemic can be fought with just a few lifestyle changes:

Only a minor change here and there can bring considerable difference in health and can help people fight obesity. For example, "walk the family dog together to get exercise," Blanck says.

Another simple step could be cutting down on sugary drinks.

"We know that childhood obesity tracks into adulthood, so it's important to make these changes early and maintain them," she says.

However, Shari Barkin, M.D., is not convinced that the rates of obesity are declining, the report says.

 "I'm heartened because we are holding our own," she says. "It is good news that we have stabilized, but these current rates, even stabilized, are unacceptable."

She advises families to maintain a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity.

"More is great, but we should all start here," she says. "The best way to get preschoolers active is to get the family involved. "Parents are the best teachers."

And make it fun. "We don't call it exercise, we call it play."

The findings appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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