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Blog: Childhood Obesity Rates Seen Falling in Several Cities


Location: Washington, DC

After decades of rising rates of childhood obesity, several American cities are reporting their first declines. A new report details the trend, which has emerged in major U.S. cities, like New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska. From The New York Times:

New York City...reported a 5.5 percent decline in the number of obese schoolchildren from 2007 to 2011...The drops are small, just 5 percent here in Philadelphia and 3 percent in Los Angeles. But experts say they are significant because they offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic, one of the nation's most intractable health problems, may actually be reversing course.

Researches noted that the declines occurred in cities that have had obesity reduction policies in place for a number of years. This includes aggressive school nutrition policies that prohibit sugary drinks and enforce calorie limits.

The study echoes a September report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the first to note the dips across the country.

In 2010, the Democratic-led Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The law aims to dramatically improve children's access to nutritious meals, enhance the quality of meals children eat both in and out of school and in child care settings, implement new school food safety guidelines and, for the first time, establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools.

The two studies cited provide evidence that policies similar to federal regulations required under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act are successful at solving the obesity epidemic.

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