Childhood obesity is down in most states, but not in Illinois.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined obesity rates among 2- to 4-year-olds from low-income families. Between 2008 and 2011, rates decreased in 19 states, while increasing in three. In another 21 states, including Illinois, they remained statistically unchanged.
Elissa Bassler of the Illinois Public Health Institute says that in itself is still progress. “It’s a sort of glass-half-full, glass-half-empty kind of situation, because for years it’s been going up,” Bassler said. “Being stable is better than what we’ve seen in past reports.”
There are encouraging signs, Bassler says. Many of the efforts credited with lowering childhood obesity rates in other states are already in place in Illinois, such as regulating nutrition programs for preschoolers and promoting breastfeeding.
“That’s the kind of thing we’ve been saying for quite some time is really important,” Bassler said. “It’s just not enough to say ‘eat less and exercise more.’”
Bassler says that with continued public support and with increased action from lawmakers, Illinois should be among the states seeing a decline in the next study.