WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- The prevalence of obesity remained high in the U.S., with about one-third of adults and 17 percent of children and teens obese in the 2011-2012 period, alongside encouraging development monitored among two- to five- year-olds, a new survey released Tuesday showed.
Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined trends for childhood and adult obesity among 9, 120 persons with measured weights and heights in a 2011-2012 nationally representative study known as National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Overall, the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicated there have been no significant changes in obesity prevalence among two- to 19-year-olds or adults in the United States between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012 periods.
For youth aged two to 19 in the U.S., 16.9 percent were obese and among adults, 34.9 percent were obese, it said.
Though overall obesity rates remained unchanged, rates in young children did improve. The prevalence of obesity among children two to five years of age decreased from 14 percent in 2003-2004 period to just over 8 percent in 2011-2012 period, a decline of 43 percent, the researchers said.
"We continue to see signs that, for some children in this country, the scales are tipping. This report comes on the heels of previous CDC data that found a significant decline in obesity prevalence among low-income children aged 2 to 4 years participating in federal nutrition programs," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. "This confirms that at least for kids, we can turn the tide and begin to reverse the obesity epidemic."
While the precise reasons for the decline in obesity among two- to five-year-olds are not clear, many child care centers have started to improve their nutrition and physical activity standards over the past few years, the CDC said.
In addition, CDC data showed decreases in consumption of sugar- sweetened beverages among youth in recent years. Another possible factor might be the improvement in breastfeeding rates in the United States, which is beneficial to staving off obesity in breastfed children, it said.
"I am thrilled at the progress we've made over the last few years in obesity rates among our youngest Americans," U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama said at the CDC statement. "With the participation of kids, parents, and communities in Let's Move! these last four years, healthier habits are beginning to become the new norm."