Friday, August 9th, 2013
A decline–small, but significant, experts say–in the obesity rate among preschoolers growing up in low-income family is offering a glimmer of hope that efforts to combat the childhood obesity epidemic may be working. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released news of the decline in a recent report. USA Today has more:
Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, South Dakota and the U.S. Virgin Islands had the largest absolute decreases in prevalence of obesity, with a drop of at least 1 percentage point, the report says. Obesity rates held steady in 20 states and Puerto Rico. They rose in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
Researchers analyzed weight and height data of about 11.6 million children ages 2 to 4 in federally funded maternal- and child-nutrition programs. The data came from the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System.
“Although obesity remains epidemic, the tide has begun to turn for some kids in some states,” Frieden says. “While the changes are small, for the first time in a generation they are going in the right direction.”
Previous research has shown that about one in eight preschoolers are obese in the USA, the CDC says. Preschoolers who are overweight or obese are five times more likely than their normal-weight peers to be overweight or obese as adults.
“It’s great news, but it’s too early to say that I feel confident that we are securely on the path to improvement,” said James Marks, senior vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropy devoted to public health.
The results are surprising, he said, “because of the speed at which the epidemic appears to be turning around.” The report shows “the highest-risk children in almost half of the states are getting healthier.” Marks, a pediatrician, is the director of the health group of the Princeton, N.J.-based foundation.
Image: Healthy girl, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Thirty percent of US women have had a time when they had trouble paying for the diapers they needed for their children, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. The cost of diapers, the study found, is one of the most stressful items in the lives of low-income families, and especially single mothers. More from NBC News:
Thirty percent of the women interviewed for a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics said they’d experienced a time when they could not afford to buy the diapers their kids needed. And a full 8 percent reported that they would “stretch” the diapers they had when their supply was running short by leaving a wet diaper on their child or partially cleaning the diaper and reusing it.
In fact, worry over how to pay for diapers is now among the top stressors for low-income parents, next to concerns about food and housing, researchers say.
The concerns come as Americans continue to grapple with the effects of the deep recession and weak recovery, which has left many families scrambling to keep up with rising bills. The nation’s median household income declined to $50,054 in 2011. After adjusting for inflation, that’s nearly 9 percent lower than the peak in 1999.
The problem is especially acute for single moms, who tend to already be among the most economically vulnerable. The overall poverty rate was 15 percent in 2011, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. But nearly 41 percent of female-headed households with children under age 18 were living below the poverty line, according to the Census Bureau. That compares to a little less than 9 percent of married-couple families with kids under 18.
Image: Diapers, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, December 27th, 2012
A modestly lower number of children from low-income families are clinically obese, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Recently, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a study finding declines in childhood obesity rates in some major U.S. cities. More on this week’s report from The New York Times:
The study, by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drew on the height and weight measurements of 27 million children who were part of the federal Women, Infants and Children program, which provides food subsidies to low-income mothers and their children up to the age of 5.
The study was based on data from 30 states and the District of Columbia and covered the years from 1998 to 2010. The share of children who were obese declined to 14.9 percent in 2010, down from 15.2 percent in 2003, after rising between 1998 and 2003. Extreme obesity also declined, dropping to 2.07 percent in 2010 from 2.22 percent in 2003. The study was published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
The report defined a 3-year-old boy of average height, almost 3 feet 2 inches tall, as being obese when he weighed 37 pounds or more. The same boy was categorized as being extremely obese when he weighed 44 pounds or more.
“The declines we’re presenting here are pretty modest, but it is a change in direction,” said Heidi M. Blanck, one of the study’s authors and the acting director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the disease centers. “We were going up before. And this data shows we’re going down. For us, that’s pretty exciting.”
Image: Kids eating healthy foods, via Shutterstock
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Monday, December 17th, 2012
An innovative new program in New York City is offering nurses special training to offer support and guidance to low-income, first-time moms who may be uneducated on how to give their babies–and themselves–the crucial care that can keep them healthy and thriving. The New York Times reports:
“The program, which was started in upstate New York in the 1970s and has been adopted in 42 states, is one of the rare public initiatives that have shown consistent and rigorously tested benefits for the mothers and children, as well as significant savings for taxpayers.
In different studies on different demographic groups, women in the program have had fewer premature deliveries, smoked less during pregnancy, spent less time on public assistance, waited longer to have subsequent children, had fewer arrests and convictions, and maintained longer contact with their baby’s fathers. Their children have had fewer language delays and reported less abuse and neglect, slightly higher I.Q. scores, fewer arrests and convictions by age 19, and less depression and anxiety.
A 2011 study of New York City’s Nurse-Family Partnership program, which currently has 91 nurses serving 1,940 families, projected that by the time a child in the program turns 12, the city, state and federal governments will have saved a combined $27,895, with additional savings thereafter — more than twice the program’s cost per child. The study was conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation using data from the Nurse-Family Partnership’s research at three locations, then extrapolated to New York.
This fall, I attended a dozen home visits, all in the Bronx, with five nurses — three from the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, which contracts with the city to provide service in the Bronx, and two, including Ms. Schmidt, with the health department’s Targeted Citywide Initiative, which tackles the most at-risk cases. The nurses’ styles and backgrounds varied; the families’ needs and challenges even more so. Each mother participated voluntarily and at no cost.
The problems were many: violence on the street, abuse in the women’s past, illness, anger, obesity, insecure housing or financial circumstances. Most of the women had the poor luck to have been born in poverty. Like their middle-class counterparts, none came into the world knowing how to raise a baby.”
Image: Young mother and baby, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
The childhood obesity epidemic may be slowing, more and more data shows, even though an estimated 1 in 6 American children is obese. But obesity among children living in low-income families is not following the trend, research shows. CNN.com has more:
Federal surveys of predominantly low-income children have not found the same declines among 2- to 5-year-olds seen in more comprehensive national surveys, for instance.
“Certainly, the burden of the obesity epidemic is carried by kids in low-income communities,” says Shakira Suglia, Sc.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, in New York City.
A new study appearing in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics offers the latest evidence that less affluent children are faring worse when it comes to obesity. The study, which included a diverse group of nearly 37,000 Massachusetts children under age six, found that between 2004 and 2008 the obesity rate fell by 1.6 and 2.6 percentage points among boys and girls, respectively.
As the researchers expected, however, the falloff was more pronounced among children with non-Medicaid health insurance than among those on Medicaid, the government-funded health plan for low-income families.
“Unfortunately there seems to be some socioeconomic disparity in this decline,” says lead researcher Xiaozhong Wen, M.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, in Boston.
Image: Obese boy, via Shutterstock.
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