Efforts to end childhood obesity are showing results, but challenges remain.
“Sadly, we are far from declaring victory,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown on Tuesday during a TedMed Google+ Hangout. “While there are slight declines among young children, the rate of severe obesity is on the rise among teenagers.”
The rates among black and Hispanic communities are rising, as well.
“Yes, it’s true that obesity rates are leveling off for whites and for our nation’s youngest children. However rates remain high for blacks, Hispanics and older children, especially rates of severe obesity,” said Brown.
Obesity rates for Hispanic females increased from about 16 percent to 20, and severe obesity more than doubled over the past 14 years, according to a NHANES report in April. In comparison, black males’ obesity rates increased from 17 percent to almost 20 and severe obesity rose from 6 percent to 10 percent during the past 14 years.
Brown said that aside from teaching people how to eat healthier, emphasis must be on accessibility and affordability.
“We look to community leaders to set aggressive goals to support a culture of health,” said Brown. “This support will lead to more children with healthy food on their plates, more places for families to buy the kind of healthy food their families need and more physically active children. These changes are paramount to continue our progress in the fight against childhood obesity.”
Brown was joined in the Ted Med conversation by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Don Schwarz, health commissioner and Philadelphia deputy mayor for health and opportunity; Elissa Epel, professor, UCSF School of Medicine; and Lisa Simpson, president and CEO of AcademyHealth.
“While we would like to say that signs of progress are clear across the country in the fight to decrease obesity rates, the only clear sign is that there is more work to be done,” said Brown.