The New York Times reports this week that childhood obesity levels have dropped in several metro areas over the past 5 years. In New York and Philadelphia the percentage of obese kids was down 5%. The measurements were conducted on children from kindergarten to middle school, for the most part.
Despite the upbeat news, there’s a major disparity along economic and racial lines. For example, the drop in obesity rates for white children in NY was 12%, but for black children was less than 2%.
The sharpest drops were seen in school systems in metro areas that have been systematically addressing childhood obesity by removing junk food and beverages from campuses and by revamping the foods served to kids. Philadelphia has been a pioneer, with almost 10 years of public health policy on the matter. Initially met with fierce resistance, the city has made headway in all demographics:
Philadelphia, which has the biggest share of residents living in poverty of the nation’s 10 largest cities, stands out because its decline was most pronounced among minorities. Obesity among 120,000 public school students measured between 2006 and 2010 declined by 8 percent among black boys and by 7 percent among Hispanic girls, compared with a 0.8 percent decline for white girls and a 6.8 percent decline for white boys.
Want to see the entire nation start to lose weight?
Start encouraging public health policy measures. Because it’s not enough to “educate” ourselves and practice “self restraint”. The cities we live in, our places of work, and where we shop are full of dietary booby traps. We should be thanking forward-thinking leaders like the mayors of New York and Philadelphia for enacting rules and regulations that, over time, are showing statistically significant results.