For the first time in decades, obesity among low-income preschoolers declined slightly in 19 states and U.S. territories from 2008 through 2011.  That's according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.According to the report, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, South Dakota and the U.S. Virgin Islands saw at least a one percentage point decrease in their rate of obesity.  Twenty states and Puerto Rico held steady.  Obesity rates increased slightly in three states.

Previous research shows one in eight preschoolers is obese in the United States and children are five times more likely to be overweight or obese as an adult if they are overweight or obese between the ages of three and five years.

"Although obesity remains an epidemic, the tide has begun to turn for some kids in some states," said Dr. Tom Frieden, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director.  "While the changes are small, for the first time in a generation they are going in the right direction.  Obesity in early childhood increases the risk of serious health problems for life."

“Today’s announcement reaffirms my belief that together, we are making a real difference in helping kids across the country get a healthier start to life,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.  “We know how essential it is to set our youngest children on a path towards a lifetime of healthy eating and physical activity, and more than 10,000 childcare programs participating in the Let’s Move! Child Care initiative are doing vitally important work on this front.  Yet, while this announcement reflects important progress, we also know that there is tremendous work still to be done to support healthy futures for all our children.”

CDC is encouraging state and local officials to step up efforts to drive down rates of childhood obesity by:

  • Making it easier for families to buy healthy, affordable foods and beverages in their neighborhoods.
  • Helping provide access to safe, free drinking water in places such as community parks, recreation areas, child care centers, and schools.
  • Helping local schools open gyms, playgrounds, and sports fields during non-school hours so children can play safely after school, on weekends, and over the summer.
  • Helping child care providers adopt best practices for improving nutrition and physical activity and for limiting computer and television time.
  • Creating partnerships with civic leaders, child care providers, and others to make community changes that promote healthy eating and active living.

For more information about childhood obesity, click here.