In 2001, former Surgeon General David Satcher called the prevalence of overweight and obesity in America a crisis of “epidemic proportions.” At this time, the rates of childhood obesity had tripled since 1970, and some experts predicted, for the first time in history, that children would have shorter life spans than their parents.
In 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Healthy People 2010, a statement of national health objectives, goals and strategies to achieve them. Some of these objectives were specifically focused on eliminating health disparities and reducing the prevalence of obesity. Now, 10 years into the 21st century, we must ask: What progress has been made addressing the childhood obesity crisis?
A study published today by the American Academy of Pediatrics not only suggests that obesity has increased among black and American Indian girls, but that health disparities may have increased as well. Pediatricians involved in the study say that over the past decade, obesity has declined in white and Asian youth, plateaued in Latino youth, and increased in black and American Indian girls.
These findings were based on mandatory school-based BMI screenings in the state of California. Data was collected from over 8 million children in fifth, seventh and ninth grade between 2001 and 2008. In 2008, 38% of these public school students were overweight, including 19% that were obese and 3.6% that were severely obese.
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