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U.S. Childhood Obesity Rates Have Increased since 1999: Study

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 NEW YORK - U.S. childhood obesity rates have increased over the past 14 years, according to a study published on Monday, casting doubt on a recent analysis by government health researchers that found a sharp drop in preschool obesity rates over the past decade.

The good news, announced in February by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), received widespread media coverage and prompted first lady Michelle Obama to say she was "thrilled at the progress we've made over the last few years in obesity rates among our youngest Americans.

The new study, published online in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, used the same data source as the CDC, but analyzed obesity rates over a different timeframe. It found increases in obesity for children age 2 to 19, and a marked rise in the percentage who were severely obese.

Asheley Cockrell Skinner of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who led the new study, said the main message of her analysis is that childhood obesity rates have not improved.

"I don't want a study like the previous one to change the national discourse," she told Reuters Health, referring to the CDC's work.

Obesity experts had already begun to question the large drop reported by the CDC for children ages 2 to 5. In their February paper the CDC scientists themselves acknowledged the statistical limitations of their data.  


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