The obesity rates among preschool children from low-income families are declining slightly in several states, although minorities like Hispanics continue to lag behind, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, released on Tuesday.
The investigation found that after decades on the rise, at least 19 states and other U.S. territories managed to reverse that trend between 2008 and 2011 by between 0.3 percent and 2.6 percent.
The Vital Signs report found that South Dakota, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands experienced a reduction of at least 1 percent in their obesity rates.
At least 20 other states and Puerto Rico showed no change in their obesity rates, while three states of the 43 analyzed - Pennsylvania, Colorado and Tennessee - showed a slight increase, according to the report.
About one in every eight children between the ages of 2 and 5 in the United States is obese, while among Hispanic kids this figure is one in six, the CDC said.
"Despite the fact that obesity continues to be an epidemic, the tide has begun to turn for some children in some states," said CDC director Tim Frieden.
According to health authorities, obese children have five times the probability of being overweight or being obese when they become adults if they were overweight or obese between the ages of 3 and 5.
The Vital Signs report took into account weight and height measurements for almost 12 million children between the ages of 2 and 4 who participated in federally funded maternal- and child-nutrition programs.
The CDC emphasized the need to create strategies to facilitate access to healthy foods and beverages by low-income families in their neighborhoods.
In addition, the CDC stressed the importance of helping local schools keep their gymnasiums, children's schoolyard play areas and sports fields open outside of school hours so that children can play safely after class, on weekends and during the summer. EFE