NH DHHS - Obesity Rates Decline Among WIC Children in New Hampshire

Concord, NH - A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention (CDC) has found modest declines in obesity among 2- to

4-year-old children from low-income families, a dip that CDC researchers

say may indicate that the obesity epidemic has passed its peak among this


The study reviewed height and weight measurements of 27 million children

who were part of the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition

Program, including more than 20,000 preschoolers annually enrolled in the

New Hampshire WIC Program in the Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS), Division of Public Health Services. The study was based on data

from 30 states and the District of Columbia and covered the years from 1998

to 2010. The national rate of children who were obese declined to 14.9

percent in 2010, down from 15.2 percent in 2003, after rising between 1998

and 2003.

In New Hampshire, the rate of children in the WIC Program who were obese

declined to 14.2 percent in 2010, down from 15.6 percent in 2003. Rates of

overweight also decreased to 17.1 percent in 2010, down from 19.4 percent

in 2003. Obesity is defined as BMI-for-age equal to or greater than the 95

th percentile, and overweight is defined as BMI-for-age between the 85th to

95th percentiles.

“The declines in obesity and overweight among these children are modest,

but it is encouraging to see a change in the right direction,” said Dr.

José Montero, director of Public Health at DHHS. “We are hopeful that this

is a sign that one of New Hampshire’s health problems may be reversing

course, at least among children.”

Several reasons are speculated for the changes, including:

Breastfeeding, which often leads to healthier weight gain for young

children, has increased in New Hampshire since 2000. The percentage

of 6-month-olds still being breast-fed increased to 22.7 percent

among children born in 2010, up from 18.0 percent among children born

in 2000.

Breastfeeding of infants from low-income families in New Hampshire

has risen over the years. In 1984, only 47 percent of infants from

those families had ever been breast-fed, compared with 71 percent in


The amount of money spent nationally on food marketing to children

has declined by nearly 20 percent from 2006 to 2009, with the biggest

drop in television advertising, according to the CDC.

Changes in the WIC Program foods, including less fruit juice and more

fruits and vegetables, which began in late 2009 may also have a

slight effect, which will be evident in future years.

The full CDC report is available at

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html. To learn more about the NH

WIC Program, visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/wic/index.htm