Hopes were dashed this week that the United States was finally making progress in the fight against childhood obesity.
Contrary to previous reports, the epidemic of fat has not abated. In fact, there's been a big jump in obesity among the nation's youngest children, according to the latest analysis of federal data, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics."
The main take-home message for me is that, clearly, obesity remains a problem," says Asheley Skinner, an associate professor of population health services at Duke University and leader of the analysis. "It's not improving."
Childhood obesity rates have been rising for decades, sparking widespread alarm among public health researchers and officials. Obese children tend to become obese adults, who are prone to many health problems, including cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
But hopes rose several years ago that the epidemic might be ebbing, at least in some parts of the country. Some researchers suggested efforts such as Michelle's Obama's Let's Move campaign might be working.
Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case, Skinner and her colleagues discovered when they analyzed the latest national data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The NHANES survey is one of the federal government's main measures of childhood obesity.
The latest analysis shows that the percentage of children ages 2 to 19 who are obese increased from 14 percent in 1999 to 18.5 percent in 2015 and 2016.
Moreover, there was no statistical difference in the overall obesity rate between the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 surveys — undercutting hopes that obesity had begun to decline in recent years.