‘Let’s Move’ on to another idea
It’s been more than six years since Michelle Obama kicked off her “Let’s Move!” initiative to fight against childhood obesity, and children are as overweight as ever before.
That’s according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Obesity. A team led by Duke University scientist Asheley Skinner studied data from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and found that the percentage of overweight and obese children between 2 and 19 years old has increased across the board since 1999.
That comes as bad news for the Obama administration, which has sought to force children to eat healthier foods and exercise more through the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign and the Task Force on Childhood Obesity.
According to the new study, in 1999-2000 (NHANES’ surveys are conducted in 2-year cycles), 27.5 percent of all youth between 2 and 19 years old were considered overweight. That increased to 31.8 percent in the 2011-2012 study and 33.2 percent in the 2013-2014 cohort.
The ratio of children who are obese has also increased in that period. In 1999-2000, 14.6 percent of children were considered Class I obese. That increased to 17.2 percent in 2011-2012 and remained the same during the most recent cycle. The ratio of obese children — those in the Class III category — increased from 0.9 percent in 1999-2000 to 2.5 percent in 2013-2014.
“There is no evidence of a change in obesity prevalence in any age group, despite substantial clinical and policy efforts targeting the issue,” the study’s authors concluded.
Skinner, the lead author of the study, said that it is difficult to know if policy efforts — such as Obama’s “Let’s Move!” — have helped lower the obesity rate from what it otherwise would have been. But she also said that if the goal of such policy efforts is to lower the obesity rates in absolute terms, they aren’t working.