Severe obesity prevalence among school-aged children in New York City has fallen along with a decrease in overall childhood obesity, unlike what has been observed in the U.S. overall, according to Sophia E. Day and colleagues from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Division of Epidemiology, Long Island City, N.Y. The details were reported in the July 10 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease.
Although the researchers suggest that the public response to the obesity epidemic is affecting all levels of childhood obesity, this study did not address questions of causality.
The researchers used height and weight data routinely collected for New York City public school students to compare obesity prevalence for 2006-2007 and for 2010-2011 to calculate sex- and age-specific BMI percentiles. Demographic variables included sex, age, race/ethnicity, individual socioeconomic status and school neighborhood socioeconomic status.
In 947,765 New York City public school students ages 5 to 14, severe obesity decreased from 6.3% of students in the 2006-2007 school year to 5.7% in 2010-11, a 9.5% drop. All obesity decreased 5.5%, from 21.9% to 20.7%.
The researchers reported severe childhood obesity has more than tripled since the early 1970s and now afflicts nearly 6% of children in the U.S., who are therefore at increased risk for adult health problems that include continued severe obesity, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and sleep apnea. Severe obesity was most common among minority, poor and male children.
In the New York data, severe obesity declined in all subgroups, but particularly among white students and wealthy students. Severe obesity prevalence increased with age.
To read the study, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/13_0439.htm.