NJ’s Childhood Obesity Rate Drops

August 26, 2013

New Jersey’s childhood obesity rate is beginning to show some improvement – part of a national trend according to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) report.

Nationally, health officials are seeing a slight drop in childhood obesity rates among low-income preschoolers in 18 states. New Jersey is one of five states showing the greatest improvement, with obesity rates down by at least one percentage point.

After nearly three decades of rapid escalation in childhood obesity in the U.S., CDC officials are calling this “a significant decrease”. New Jersey Department of Health officials are crediting campaigns for healthier food options in schools and family aid programs, greater awareness among parents and communities, and nutritional counseling as some of the driving forces for improvement.

While the numbers are encouraging, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden warns that the challenge of childhood obesity is far from eradicated. One third of American children and teens are overweight or obese, and the rate is even higher among Hispanic and African American children.

According to the study, obese preschoolers are five times more likely to be obese in adulthood and face significant health risks. Globally, the World Health Organization has called childhood obesity “one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century”.

Clearly, tackling childhood obesity is no small feat. But progress is within reach—as these numbers show—and New Jersey’s campaign for healthier eating habits among kids and adults has already proven successful.

As Dr. James S. Marks, senior vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation notes, “These signs of progress tell a clear story: We can reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. It isn’t some kind of unstoppable force.”

On a related note, check out the partnership between the Community Foundation of New Jersey and Advocates for New Jersey Children to increase access to breakfast in New Jersey schools.

If you would like to support efforts to curb childhood obesity and promote healthier living, please contact Hans Dekker at hdekker@cfnj.org.