In 2013, NCCOR formed the Childhood Obesity Declines Workgroup, to better understand reported declines in childhood obesity. An expert panel convened to start assessing how U.S. cities and counties are developing and operationalizing obesity reduction interventions, initiatives, and strategies. Four communities were identified to be studied: New York City (NY), Philadelphia (PA), Granville County (NC), Anchorage (AK) in order to examine the reasons behind the change in obesity rates and exploring, more generally, how communities can address childhood obesity. The Site Summary Reports for the NCCOR sites can be accessed on the Childhood Obesity Declines Project Page.
The number of communities charting declines continues to grow. In June, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released new stories and data from states, cities, and counties that have measured declines in their childhood obesity rates. Many of these places have made broad, far-reaching changes to help support healthy eating and regular physical activity. RWJF has updated its Signs of Progress map, which now includes more than 30 locations nationwide where childhood obesity rates are going down.
Sample data from “new” sites includes:
- CentraCare Health, a nonprofit healthcare system in Cloud, Minnesota, is working with the local government and community organizations to help school districts update their wellness policies and implement nutrition labeling in grocery stores and schools. The obesity and overweight rate fell from 17 percent in 2008 to 13 percent in 2015 among 12-year-olds, a 24 percent relative decline.
- All YMCA’s in Cherokee County, South Carolina have adopted Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in their afterschool programs to help kids have healthy snacks and drinks and at least 30 minutes of physical activity. The obesity and overweight rate fell from 43 percent in 2012 to 34.3 percent in 2015 among first grade students, a 20.2 percent relative decline. Among third graders, the obesity and overweight rate fell from 51.5 percent in 2012 to 40.7 percent in 2015, a 21 percent relative decline.
- Kaiser Permanente, the Safe Routes to School Partnership and the National PTA are running a “Fire Up Your Feet” campaign in Southern California to encourage kids to walk or bike to school. The obesity rate fell from 19.1 percent in 2008 to 17.5 percent in 2013 among Kaiser Permanente members ages 2 to 19, an 8.4 percent relative decline.
- The obesity and overweight rate fell from 22.9 percent in 2012 to 21.2 percent in 2015 among 2- to 4-year olds enrolled in the Colorado Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), a 7.4 percent relative decline.
Following are updates from the four sites originally studied as part of the NCCOR Childhood Obesity Declines Project:
- Philadelphia, PA: The obesity rate fell from 21.7 percent in 2006-07 to 20.3 percent in 2012-13 among Philadelphia public school students in grades K-12, a 6.5 percent relative decline.
- New York, NY: 5.5% Decline in obesity among children in grades K-8 between 2006-07 and 2010-11.
- Granville, NC: 3.5% decline in combined overweight and obesity among children ages 2-18 in Granville Counties, respectively, between 2005 and 2009.
- Anchorage, AK: 5.4% Decline in combined overweight and obesity among children in grades K, 1, 3, 5, 7 between 2003-04 and 2013-14.