Latest Child Obesity Rates
In 1998, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that close to 10% of 2-5 year old children living in low income households in Arizona were obese. At that rate, Arizona was doing well with only 7 states in the country having lower obesity rates for low income, young children.
That all changed at the start of this century. Arizona’s obesity rate for young children rose above the national average, peaking at 14.6% in 2008 and falling only very slightly since then. The most recent data from the CDC shows that there is reason for Arizonans and the rest of the country to be hopeful. Previous studies have shown decreases in child obesity rates among children living in higher income households, but this most recent data from the CDC shows that the trend is also going in the right direction among low income young children. In 18 states the obesity rate dropped significantly between 2008 and 2011 and in 20 other states, including Arizona, the rates remained the same.
The positive trend shows that community and family focus on better nutrition and more physical activity both lead to healthier kids. Healthy change can start with moms breastfeeding their babies. Research shows breastfeeding brings many health gains to children, including lower rates of obesity. The Department of Health Services Baby Steps for Breastfeeding Success program provides support to moms, hospitals and child care centers to encourage breastfeeding.
DHS also works with licensed child care centers throughout the state on healthy strategies to limit the amount of time children sit in front of a tv or computer screen, make more water available for kids to drink instead of juice, and encourage more physical play. See information about Empower Pack here.
Read the Children’s Action Alliance publication, Weighing In, for practical ideas on how Arizona schools can bring better nutrition and more physical activity into the regular school day – with good results for both health and academics.With continued effort, we can see Arizona on the list of improved states in the next CDC report.