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Childhood Obesity May Be Leveling Off
Date:5/27/2008

But experts note that many American kids are still too heavy,,,,

TUESDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- In what may be the first good news in the battle against obesity among America's children, federal researchers report that the latest data suggest that the number of overweight kids may be leveling off.

However, experts caution there's still much to be done to improve the health of American children because the number of youngsters who are overweight today is still triple what it was in the 1960s and 1970s.

"The rates are still very high. But this study suggests there may be some cause for optimism as the rate appears fairly level over eight years," said study author Cynthia Ogden, an epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics, whose findings are published in the May 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Others agreed with Ogden's assessment.

"After 25 years of extraordinarily bad news about childhood obesity, there is a glimmer of hope. But it's much too soon to know whether rates have truly leveled off," said the author of an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal, Dr. David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children's Hospital Boston.

"Even if they have leveled off, the prevalence is at such high levels that unless we do something, unless we redouble our efforts, this generation is in store for a shorter and less healthful life than their parents," Ludwig said.

Using height and weight data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the researchers calculated the body-mass index (BMI) for 8,165 American children between the ages of 2 and 19. The data used for the study was collected in 2003-04 and again in 2005-06.

The researchers found no statistical difference between the two time periods, and so combined them into one. Between 2003 and 2006, 31.9 perce
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