We know that obesity is a problem and a disease and it is a silent pandemic in today’s day and age but people are hardly looking at it in that manner which is also a sign that they are very complacent about this problem. But the real challenge is when obesity is seen at a very early stage in your childhood between ages 2 to 4. That is when the problem gets worse because the challenges you are facing will keep on increasing as you grow older. Due to this reason, a new study has been published regarding childhood obesity in American children and the revelations are terrifying, to say the least.
The study looked at children ages 2 to 4 enrolled in the Women, Infants and Children program, which provides healthy foods and other services to preschool-aged children in low-income families. The children were weighed and measured. The researchers found that 2.1% of kids in the program were severely obese in 2010. Six years later, the rate had dipped to 1.8%. But by 2020, it was 2%. That translates to about 33,000 of more than 1.6 million kids in the WIC program. Significant increases were seen in 20 states with the highest rate in California at 2.8%. There also were notable rises in some racial and ethnic groups. The highest rate, about 2.8%, was in Hispanic kids. Experts say severe obesity at a very early age is nearly irreversible and is strongly associated with chronic health problems and early death. It’s not clear why the increase occurred.
When WIC obesity rates dropped, some experts attributed it to 2009 policy changes that eliminated juice from infant food packages, provided less saturated fat, and tried to make it easier to buy fruits and vegetables. “The package hasn’t changed”, said Dr. Sarah Armstrong, a Childhood Obesity Researcher but added that “the daily hardships that families living in poverty are facing may be harder today than they were 10 years ago, and the slight increases in the WIC package just weren’t enough,”
One more worrying fact was that “The researchers faced challenges. The number of kids in WIC declined in the past decade. And the study period included 2020, the year the COVID-19 pandemic hit when fewer parents brought their children in to see doctors. That reduced the amount of complete information available”, as per the report. On top of that, the statement “We are thinking it’s going to get worse,” from Deanna Hoelscher, a childhood obesity researcher at the UTHealth Houston School of Public Health makes you think about the problems the US is going to face in the next few decades.