The United States toddler obesity rate has rapidly fell by 43% since 2003-2004, the first noticeably large decline in years, a new national study discovered.
US toddler obesity, among children ages two to five-years-old, dropped 8.4% in 2011-2012 from 13.9%, the survey showed.
Scientists have yet to pinpoint an exact cause or reason for the major decrease, but say a reduction of sugary beverage consumption may have helped to contribute.
Childhood obesity has been shown to negatively impact one’s health including increasing the risk of cancer, adult obesity, heart disease, and stroke later in life.
The study was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was published in the Journal of American Medical Association (also known as Jama) on Tuesday.
“This is the first time we’ve seen any indication of any significant decrease in any group,” author Cynthia Ogden told the New York Times, describing the finding as “exciting”.
The study followed an estimated 9,100 people, including approximately 600 infants and toddlers in 2011 and 2012. They weighed and measured each study participant.
The study, overall, found no significant changes in obesity rates of older youth and adults over the study period.
Adult obesity rates continue to remain high, with a third of US children and teens and more than two-thirds of adults considered to be obese and/or overweight.
The news comes right on the heels of the first lady Michelle Obama’s fourth anniversary of her “Let’s Move!” campaign which focuses on encouraging kids to exercise and practice eating healthy choices in an effort to stop the nation’s obesity epidemic.
“I am thrilled at the progress we’ve made over the last few years in obesity rates among our youngest Americans,” the first lady said in a statement. “Healthier habits are beginning to become the new norm.”
The first lady has led a public effort on this since 2010, including appearing with Elmo on Sesame Street, as well as recording an album with hip-hop and pop stars that encourage healthy eating habits.
Looks like her movement may have lent a hand in lowering toddler obesity rates.