Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Studies that used same data differ on changes in obesity among children ages 2 to 5

A pair of studies on childhood obesity that examined the same data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for children ages 2 to 5 resulted in different conclusions, with one study saying child obesity has significantly declined and the other saying that's not the case, Sabrina Tavernise reports for The New York Times. A federal study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association claims that child obesity in that age group has fallen dramatically since 2004. While researchers at the University of North Carolina don't dispute that claim, they point to a spike in obesity in 2003 that makes it look like numbers have significantly dropped, and that if one goes back to 1999, there has been no significant change in the past 15 years.

The federal study found that obesity among children ages 2 to 5 dropped from 2004 to 2014 from 14 percent to 8 percent, which is "the first statistically significant decline for any group," Tavernise writes. The North Carolina study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, counters that in 1999-2000 the obesity rate among those ages 2 to 5 was 10.3 percent, meaning the drop from 1999 to 2012 was significantly lower than the drop from 2004 to 2012. The rate was 10.6 percent in 2001-02, then jumped to 13.9 percent in 2003-04, before dropping back to 10.7 percent in 2005-06 and 10.1 percent in 2007-08.

“The bottom line is that there is still a huge amount of obesity,” Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan, a professor of medicine and public health at Emory University in Atlanta, told Tavernise. “There may be isolated, individual places where there are decreases, but it’s very hard to interpret that until you get more data points. From a public health action perspective, this debate doesn’t change anything we might do.” (Read more) (NYT graphic)

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