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Study suggests national drop in obesity in toddlers

Tuesday - 2/25/2014, 7:50pm  ET

ATLANTA (AP) -- There's another sign that childhood obesity may be on the decline nationwide.

A government study finds that obesity among children ages two to five has dropped to 8 percent -- from 14 percent a decade ago. But the decline was only seen in pre-schoolers, not in older children.

And some experts point out that even the improvement in toddlers wasn't a steady decline. They say it's hard to know whether the weight figures for pre-schoolers are permanently curving down.

The report appears online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Health officials have been hoping for more substantial evidence that they've turned a corner in the fight against childhood obesity.

A third of U.S. children and teens, and more than two-thirds of adults, are obese or overweight. It's seen as one of the nation's leading public health problems. Health officials call it a longstanding epidemic.

Pre-schoolers who are overweight or obese are five times more likely than other children to be heavy as adults. That means a greater risk of high cholesterol, high blood sugar, asthma and even mental health problems.

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207-c-19-(Diane Kepley, AP correspondent)-"federal assistance programs"-AP correspondent Diane Kepley reports there are signs of improvement in the nation's obesity epidemic. (25 Feb 2014)

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206-v-32-(Diane Kepley, AP correspondent)--AP correspondent Diane Kepley reports there are signs of improvement in the nation's obesity epidemic. (25 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO AX602: FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 file photo, Oumou Balde, 4, left, plays with her teacher Jacqualine Sanchez, right, and pretend food in a pre-kindergarten class at the Sheltering Arms Learning Center in New York in a program to educate children about nutrition and health. According to a study published Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that obesity among children ages 2 to 5 dropped - to 8 percent, from 14 percent a decade ago. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) (25 Feb 2014)

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