Massachusetts Saw Recent Drop in Pediatric Obesity

Smaller decrease seen for children younger than 6 insured by Medicaid versus privately insured

MONDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence of obesity among children younger than 6 years in a Massachusetts cohort was stable from 1999 to 2003, and decreased from 2004 to 2008, according to a study published online April 23 in Pediatrics.

Xiaozhong Wen, M.D., Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from well-child visits from 36,827 children visiting a multisite pediatric practice in eastern Massachusetts from 1999 to 2008. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2000 gender-specific growth charts were used to define obesity as weight-for-length ≥95th percentile for children aged <24 months and body mass index ≥95th percentile for children aged 24 to <72 months.

The researchers found that the prevalence of obesity was stable in boys and girls from 1999 to 2003. The obesity prevalence decreased substantially among both boys and girls from 2004 to 2008. This decline was more evident among children insured by non-Medicaid health plans than among those insured by Medicaid.

"Among children aged <6 years at this multisite pediatric practice, obesity prevalence decreased during 2004 to 2008, which is in line with national data showing no increase in prevalence during this time period," the authors write.

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