New Obesity Study for Low-Income Preschoolers Dings Colorado

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a “good news” report this week on a decrease in many states in obesity among low-income preschoolers.  Researchers said it was a welcome blunting of a trend that had been moving in the wrong direction.

The report was illustrated with a graphic depicting  colorful children’s building blocks, with a  two letter postal code on each block. There was a stack representing the 19 states or U.S. territories where early childhood obesity had declined, a stack of 21 blocks representing states or territories where it had stayed the same, and a stack of only three blocks where early childhood obesity had increased.

Change in obesity rates among low-income preschoolers

This graph shows that among the 43 states and territories studied in the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance Report in 2011, 19 states and territories are showing decreases in obesity rates among low-income preschoolers, while 21 states and territories are showing no change in obesity rates, and 3 states, including Colorado, are showing increases in obesity rates.


Unfortunately, one of those three represented Colorado. The other two increase states were Tennessee and Pennsylvania.  But at least in Colorado’s case, the news may not be as discouraging as it might appear.

Ashleigh May, lead author of the CDC study, said the report covered the years 2008-2011, and it was only in the year 2011 that Colorado’s rate ticked up, from 9.1 percent to 10 percent. Even so, May said, Colorado still had the second lowest rate in the nation, behind only Hawaii.

Tracy Miller, a specialist in early childhood obesity for the Prevention Services Division of the state health department, said the news was even better than that.

“We compiled our 2012 data a couple of months ago and the prevalence of obesity in children ages 2-4 was 8.4 percent,” Miller said. She said the uptick reported by the CDC for 2011 was an aberration rather that a trend.

The issue is considered serious because obese children are more likely to become obese adults and suffer lifelong physical and mental health problems.

Centers for Disease Control map depicts Colorado as one of three states where early childhood obesity is on the rise.

Centers for Disease Control map depicts Colorado as one of three states where early childhood obesity is on the rise.


Miller cited Colorado’s early childhood obesity  prevention project with its many partners and strategies as one key to the state’s success. Said May,  “I can’t speak to what’s happening in Colorado after 2011.”

I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS had previously analyzed state legislation aimed at reducing obesity among state elementary school students and found that it had changed little.

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