Study Shows Slight Drop in Child Obesity
Childhood obesity rates in California have slightly decreased from 2005-2010, according to a report released today based on studies conducted by UCLA and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.
The report shows that obesity rates among 5th, 7th and 9th graders dropped by 1.1 percent statewide during the five-year period.
The study found that in Los Angeles County, there was a 2.5 percent drop in childhood obesity. However, the studies also found that 39 percent of children in a six-county Southern California region were obese in 2010.
However, one USC health expert said the study does not provide comprehensive insight on the issue at large.
"I think it's pretty misleading," said Maryalice Jordan-Marsh, Associate Professor in Health Concentration in USC School of Social Work. "The exciting part is we may be having an impact in some groups."
The data also showed Hispanic and African American children are most affected, with obesity rates of 46.2 percent and 39.3 percent, respectively. In Caucasian children, the obesity rate in 2010 was at 26.9 percent, considerably lower than other ethnic groups.
"One thing we have seen in that community is a lot of sedentary behaviour," Jordan-Marsh said. "We want to look at what's the level of education in that area. We know that in a zip code there is a tremendous variation in level of education. Eating healthy is more expensive. It is a dilemma when you don't have a disposable income."
Even with the slight drop, 31 out of 58 California counties saw increase in obesity rates. In these counties, 6 to 11 year olds showed four times higher obesity rates in comparison to 1980. The increase since 1980 was three times higher in 12 to 19-year-olds.
"There are a number of us concerned with obesity across the life span," Jordan-Marsh said. "This is not just an issue for children but for middle aged adults and old adults. Because one dilemma about obesity is it has long term health impact in terms of chonic illness and acute illnesses and social impacts."
Childhood obesity can increase the odds for cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, according to the study.
"We have faculty like myself in the School of Social Work working with the School of Cinematic Arts working on ways to get kids to move and make good choices," Jordan-Marsh said. "I think the exciting part there are some interventions and some messages have some impact, but then again, that's a really small percent change and it needs to continue to go down. We don't know if its an interesting blip or a trend."