Research shows that about one in eight preschoolers in the United States is obese, and children are five times more likely to be overweight as an adult if they are overweight or obese between the ages of 3 and 5.
But it appears that public health policies in programs in recent years aimed at reducing childhood abusing may be making headway.
A Vital Signs report released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that Maryland is among 19 states and U.S. territories showing a small decline from 2008 to 2011 in the likelihood of obesity among its low-income preschoolers. Maryland's rate dropped from 15.7 percent in 2008 to 15.3 percent in 2011.
Determining the causes of the decline can be difficult, but it's likely the result of a variety of factors, from smart choices made by individuals, families and communities, to smart public health policies. Maryland has taken steps to implement policy, systems, and environmental improvements that make healthy choices easier for families. For example, Maryland successfully encouraged all 32 birthing hospitals in the state to adopt Maryland's Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations or become certified as 'Baby-Friendly.' In addition, the state works with child care providers to implement physical activity and nutrition improvements as part of Let’s Move Child Care and participates in the CDC Community Transformation Grant program. But we are not done.
This bit of good news means doesn’t mean we can slow our efforts. Obesity rates are still high, and sustained and consistent work is needed to make a notable difference.
Addressing childhood obesity - which is linked with physical health issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, prediabetes, and others, as well as psychological health issues, such as poor self-esteem - is critical to creating healthy communities.
Learn more about Maryland’s efforts to reduce childhood obesity through the State Health Improvement Process (SHIP) and see what you can do to help make a difference in your community!