Obesity before the age 5 TOS seminar


This is my last post from Boston, the meeting is winding down. Thank you to everyone who has been part of making this a really great gathering!

Dr Kirsten Davison: New avenues in the treatment of obesity before age 5 in families are being discovered. Intervening early is a key strategy for achieving long-term reductions in BMI, and there is rapidly expanding interest in this very promising area. A key strategy is the promotion of healthy lifestyles (limit added sugars, limit TV time and so on), as is parenting skills, and interventions that target broader family aspects, such as reducing stress and disharmony. The greatest intervention effects were seen in socioeconomically challenged families, for example where there is parental mental health issues and financial strain.

Dr Cynthia Ogden: epidemiology of obesity in children 2-5 year old with data from NHANES. 7-8% of US toddlers have obesity, with huge ethnic disparities (lowest in whites and highest in Hispanic children). There are no major difference between boys and girls. The increase in excess weight really increases rapidly with age. Obesity rates have levelled off since 2003-2004, and could even be declining. Extreme obesity, however, has increased from 3.6% in 2000 to 5.4% in 2012, which is reflected in the distribution histogram for BMI with a much longer right hand tail. No increase in obesity in children <24 months. Energy intake in 2-5 year olds has been stable in both boys and girls. As children grow older, their intake of added sugars increases. Strikingly, for any given day, 15% of 2-5 year old US toddlers will consume a pizza.

Jim Marks keynote presentation on childhood obesity


Rates of childhood obesity has levelled off in the US and could even be declining in 2-5 year olds. These positive signs are seen in all ethnic groups but more in whites than blacks in New York. During the last ten years there have been many changes to the environment, for example the food served in schools and more playgrounds, reduced marketing to children, more PE, higher soda prizes, and clear calorie labelling. A key message was the need for a broad collaboration between involved partners. Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative was hailed as a critical breakthrough in making physical activity popular among children again, particularly for vulnerable children.

Future priorities include the closing of the disparity gap, which is huge and growing, more attention on pregnant women, and building a culture of health in every part of society. It is now critical to remain focused and not be lulled into a sense of false security given that childhood obesity rates appear to be stable or even declining.