A study published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the obesity rate for American children aged two to five years old had dropped from 14% to 8% from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012, a decrease of 43 percent. While this news shows that the US is making significant progress in the childhood obesity epidemic, we still have a lot of work to do. Approximately one in twelve children (23 million) in this country is still overweight. Being overweight is linked to health and developmental issues, poorer academic performance, and behavioral problems. Children who are overweight or obese during these formative preschool years are five times more likely to be overweight or obese as adults than their healthy-weighted peers.
A compounding factor is that children who are food insecure are more at risk for being overweight or obese. More than sixteen million children in this country live in food-insecure households, which means that these households experience limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Food insecurity is also linked to choosing more inexpensive, less nutritious foods. These circumstances and decisions can cause nutrient deficiencies and obesity, thus overturning the traditional image of the underweight, impoverished child.
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