Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Low-Fat Kids in Philly

New numbers show Philly kids actually are battling childhood obesity with some success. Yep, something good is happening in the city.

Low-Fat Kids in Philly

Puerto Rican boys exercise at a gym specialized in children´s fitness in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, April 20, 2007. Statistics point to a growing generation of Puerto Rican children struggling with obesity and related diseases, once rarely seen among such young people. The problem is worse here than on the U.S. mainland: Studies show 26 percent of youngsters are obese, compared to 18 percent on the U.S. mainland. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Puerto Rican boys exercise at a gym specialized in children's fitness in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, April 20, 2007. Statistics point to a growing generation of Puerto Rican children struggling with obesity and related diseases, once rarely seen among such young people. The problem is worse here than on the U.S. mainland: Studies show 26 percent of youngsters are obese, compared to 18 percent on the U.S. mainland. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Unaccustomed as I am to reporting good news (hence the title of this blog), I hope you all saw the news story in Tuesday's New York Times about a drop in childhood obesity in some American cities, including Philadelphia.

Yep, something good, it appears, is happening in a city long derided as home of the fat, ugly and corrupt.

And while the Times notes the drop in obesity rates is small and occuring over time, it is encouraging to read that actions taken by any government anywhere in areas aimed at improving the health of citizens can actually pay off.

Here are some highlights:

-- While the drop in rates are small (5% in Philly) experts say "they are significant because they offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic, one of the nation’s most intractable health problems, may actually be reversing course."

-- "Philadelphia has undertaken a broad assault on childhood obesity for years. Sugary drinks like sweetened iced tea, fruit punch and sports drinks started to disappear from school vending machines in 2004. A year later, new snack guidelines set calorie and fat limits, which reduced the size of snack foods like potato chips to single servings. By 2009, deep fryers were gone from cafeterias and whole milk had been replaced by one percent and skim."

-- And while declines nationally tend to be in mostly higher income white populations, in Philly that's not the case: "Philadelphia, which has the biggest share of residents living in poverty of the nation’s 10 largest cities, stands out because its decline was most pronounced among minorities. Obesity among 120,000 public school students measured between 2006 and 2010 declined by 8 percent among black boys and by 7 percent among Hispanic girls, compared with a 0.8 percent decline for white girls and a 6.8 percent decline for white boys."

You can read the full Times story here.

Hopefully such findings will encourage even more aggressive action to battle childhood obesity and help cut long-term heath-care costs.

Not everything government does is wrong.

 

 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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