First Lady Promotes Youth Exercise With Olympians
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama flexes her muscles as she exercises with schoolchildren at the River Terrace School April 21, 2010 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee—Getty Images

This Chart Shows How Hard It Is to End Childhood Obesity

Feb 09, 2015
TIME Health
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Michelle Obama announced her "Let's Move" campaign, an effort to fight childhood obesity by promoting healthier eating and physical activity among kids, five years ago Monday. But the most recent data show that driving down childhood obesity rates is proving to be an elusive goal.

Obama's challenge was steep: Overall childhood obesity rates tripled in the past three decades, climbing from about 5% in 1974 to nearly 17% by 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All told, 12.7 million children were considered obese when "Let's Move" got underway in 2010.

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How are efforts to fight childhood obesity doing?

As the chart below shows, the results are mixed: While childhood obesity among children between two and five years old dropped 3.7% from 2010 to 2012, the rate increased 2.1% for children 12-19 during the same period. The overall childhood obesity rate, meanwhile, remained at a constant 16.9% from 2008 through 2012.

If there's a silver lining in the numbers, it's the reduction in obesity among very young children. If kids are being taught healthy habits at a younger age, they're probably more likely to carry those behaviors into grade school and beyond, public health experts say. If that trend holds true, we should start to see a similar drop in obesity among older children over the next few years.

QUIZ: Should You Eat This or That?

Which is better for you: A 1/2 cup of ice cream or 3 scoops of sorbet?
Which is better for you: Half cup of ice cream or 3 scoops of sorbet?Getty Images (4)
Which is better for you: A 1/2 cup of ice cream or 3 scoops of sorbet?
Answer: A 1/2 cup of ice cream
Which is better for you: Real butter or spray on fake butter?
Answer: Butter
Which is better for you: A sirloin burger or a turkey burger?
Which is better for you: Almonds or pretzels?
Answer: Almonds
Which is better for you: Eggs or Special K?
Answer: Eggs
Answer: Regular salad dressing
Which is better for you: A low fat cookie or dark chocolate?
Answer: Dark chocolate “People tend to believe fat free is calorie free,” says Keri Gans, a registered dietitian in New York City. “Go for the real thing.” Fat free cookies may be lower in fat, but higher in other ingredients like sugar. Try a nice piece of dark chocolate for those antioxidants.
Which is better for you: Low fat Greek yogurt or 100 calorie Yoplait yogurt?
Answer: Low fat Greek Yogurt
Which is better for you: Half cup of ice cream or 3 scoops of sorbet?
Getty Images (4)
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