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Childhood obesity

CDC, White House lied about American children and obesity: Here's the real science

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: childhood obesity, CDC, White House

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(NaturalNews) Just weeks ago, reports in a number of media outlets declared that the battle against childhood obesity in the U.S. was turning in favor of our kids.

On February 25, The New York Times reported that childhood obesity levels had fallen by double-digit percentages in a decade, according to the government:

Federal health authorities on Tuesday reported a 43 percent drop in the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade, the first broad decline in an epidemic that often leads to lifelong struggles with weight and higher risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke.

"This is the first time we've seen any indication of any significant decrease in any group," said Cynthia L. Ogden, a researcher for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the lead author of a report supposedly documenting the decline.

The Wall Street Journal added:

The rate of obesity in preschool-age children dropped about 40% over the past decade, according to data from a comprehensive federal survey published [Feb. 25] in the Journal of the American Medical Association--the latest sign that attempts to help parents improve children's diets and exercise habits might be starting to have an effect.

"We continue to see signs that, for some children in this country, the scales are tipping," CDC Director Tom Frieden said. "This confirms that at least for kids, we can turn the tide and begin to reverse the obesity epidemic."

But are these figures accurate? Is what the federal government telling us about childhood obesity really true?

Same data set, different conclusions?

The answer is no, according to Joseph Skelton, a pediatrician at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center who has just co-authored a new study that contradicts the CDC's findings.

"The total number of kids that are overweight or obese hasn't changed," he said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). "It does seem overall, though, that some kids are getting heavier."

The study, which was published in in JAMA Pediatrics, a journal of the American Medical Association, shows that childhood obesity is getting worse in a small subset of the heaviest kids, among whom the trend has doubled.

Interestingly, Skelton's study utilized the same data set as that which was released in February, when the CDC was touting the 43 percent decline in obesity among the nation's preschoolers over a 10-year span.

Skelton's study, AFP reported, spanned a longer time frame, a wider age range, and used 1999 at its starting point instead of 2003, when an unusual rise in obesity was observed for reasons that remain unclear, said the co-author.

The newer study looked at records of 26,690 children between the ages of two and 19; all took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2012. That's the same survey the CDC used, and it's a survey regularly tracked by the federal government.

As reported by AFP:

Just over 17 percent were obese in 2011-2012, meaning their body mass index (BMI) was greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for their age and sex.

That was slightly higher than the figure in 1999-2000, when 14.5 were obese, but the margin of error could make the difference as small as one percent.

When researchers looked more closely at severe obesity, they found this trend was becoming more common, and had about doubled from 1999 to 2012.

'I would hate for people to think we've got this figured out'

Those who are severely obese are defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 20 to 40 percent higher than the 95th percentile of their peers.

One in three people in the U.S. are considered obese. The country spends $160 billion a year on treating the medical complications from carrying around too much weight, according to previous research.

Stephen Pont, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' provisional section on obesity, said that most doctors and nurses who work with kids have not seen the sudden progress in toddlers in their work that was reflected in the February report.

"We are seeing increases in rates of people who are challenged by severe obesity, who are more likely to already have a number of medical complications that are worsened and caused by their weight," Pont, who was not involved in either study, told AFP.

"I would hate for people to think that all of a sudden we have stopped the adult and childhood obesity epidemic, because we most certainly haven't."






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