Here's the ABC version of the story:
Childhood obesity is a serious problem that can lead to serious health problems in adulthood. In recent years the number of obese children in the U.S. has increased, but a new study looking at the national trend over the past eight years shows some positive signs.
Brian Gordon is one of thousands who battled a weight problem as a child. He says it wasn't until he became active in sports that the pounds started dropping off. He said, "I gained a lot of weight in middle school and my parents got me into soccer, baseball and wrestling. Things like that."
Doctor Cynthia Ogden is an epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics. She and her colleagues analyzed data from more than eight thousand children and teens ages two through nineteen who participated in national health surveys. Looking at body mass index from 1999 through 2006 they found obesity
levels are stabilizing.
Dr. Cynthia Ogden said, "This was true for boys and for girls. For whites, for African-Americans, for Mexican-Americans, and it was even true when we picked three different levels of high body mass index." 16.3% of U.S. children and teens are considered obese. While the numbers have not increased they also have not decreased, and certain ethnicities continue to be more likely to be obese. Dr.Ogden said,"By race ethnicity particularly among girls we see big disparities where about twenty-eight percent of African-American girls, twenty per cent of Mexican- American girls and about fourteen and a half percent of white teenage girls are overweight or obese."
Alisa Rank is worried about obesity problems. She said,"It's really important to get the education to kids to let them know what can happen if they're not getting exercise in the future. I don't think there's enough emphasis on that."
Dr. Ogden said, "The main concern for teenagers is that if you're too heavy as a teen you're likely to be obese as an adult and that can be a problem." Researchers are encouraged by the findings. they say the public health message remains the same. children and teens need a well balanced diet and regular physical activity.
The study appears this week in JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association.