Has the U.S. obesity epidemic peaked?

WASHINGTON — The country’s obesity epidemic may have peaked.

The Centers for Disease Control says that from 2003 to 2012, overall obesity rates remained stable. And there was a big reduction in obesity in children between the ages of two and five.

That’s relative, though – over the past 30 years, more grownups are obese and the number of obese children has tripled.

Still, we’re doing something right, and Merilee Kern, the author of “Making Healthy Choices: A Story to Inspire Fit, Weight-Wise Kids,” told WTOP’s Veronica Robinson that there are a few changes over the past few years.

In general, Kern says, there’s more awareness of “the epidemic nature of the problem” of obesity, and that affects people’s choices. Specific recent changes, particularly involving children, include more breast-feeding, less sugar and soda consumption, and programs to give low-income kids access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

It’s not all good news: Kern says it’s possible that the leveling-off of adult obesity is simply a matter of people not being able to get fatter. “They’ll intake the calories, and then having to move around and function in the world carrying all that fat, it balances out. … A lot of the plateau can be that humans really have reached maximum capacity in that regard.”

Obesity is down for kids between ages two and five. “The newer moms were raised in this generation of being more aware of obesity as a problem. A few decades ago it really wasn’t in the national consciousness.”

Still, Kern thinks that while there won’t be a dramatic reduction in obesity in the future, “there’ll be some level of reversal … there’s a chance to get a grip on this huge concern.”

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