At age 5 years kids are at the lowest point on the body mass index (BMI) charts. They have lost their baby fat and have little bird legs and pot bellies. The May issue of Pediatrics has a report that examines data from a big multisite practice in eastern Massachusetts from 1999 to 2008. (1) They found that obesity which everybody knows has been increasing for a few decades has finally stopped increasing or may even be decreasing slightly in small children. This corresponds to findings from other studies like the one we talked about several articles ago that found K through 8th grader obesity went from 22% to 21% in New York City during the years of 2006 and 2010 respectively. (2) This new report from the Boston area found obesity rates defined as BMI greater than the 95% using CDC 2000 growth charts, for 3-5 year olds, was 10% decreasing to 9% during the years from 1999 to 2008.
When I read this I thought, “Hey we have a computerized medical record, what’s happening in Portsmouth?” We started our computerized medical record at the beginning of 2005. So we got our data from 2005 through 2011 to see how we compare with the world. We found that there isn’t much of a trend or a tiny improvement just in the last 2 years. The overall rate of obesity in boys was 21.4% and girls 24.7% averaged for the last 7 years. The overall average BMI has been stable at 17 averaging in all the 5 year olds. But that average is at the eighty fifth percentile - so high. The yearly numbers for 5 year old boys for 2005 through 2011 respectively were 17.2, 17.4, 17, 17, 17.2, 17, and 16.5. For girls: 17.2, 17.6, 17.2, 17.8, 17.3, 16.6, and 16.2. So maybe some improvement in the last few years.
So what am I doing wrong that we have such a high rate of obesity? Or what am I doing right that the rate has stopped increasing? I don’t know. I’m not doing much.
1. Won X. et al. Decreasing prevalence of obesity among young children in Massachusetts from 2004 to 2008. Pediatrics 2012;129:823-31.
2. Obesity in K-8 students - New York City, 2006-07 to 2010-11 school years. MMWR December 16, 2011/60(49):1673-78.
John DiTraglia, M.D., writes a weekly column devoted to “Fat Sciences,” one of the biggest preoccupations of America. He can be reached at 740-354-6605 or email@example.com or fat-science.org.