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Showing Improvement: Obesity Rate For Low-Income Preschoolers Dropping

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The obesity rate for one group of kids is showing signs of improvement.

Monique Griego has more on the new study and what parents need to know.

While childhood obesity continues to be an epidemic in the U.S., for the first time in years, the obesity rate for low-income preschoolers is showing signs of improvement.

“It’s not a huge drop, but it is a really positive step,” said Michelle Demeule-Hayes, dietician.

Michelle Demeule-Hayes, a dietician at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, says the change is small but significant.

The study done by the CDC shows between 2008 and 2011, the obesity rate for low-income children ages two to four decreased in 19 of the 43 states measured–including Maryland.

Experts say reaching kids in this age range is especially crucial.

“It’s kind of that window of opportunity where we can really get them before these food habits are engrained,” Demeule-Hayes said.

According to the report, in Maryland the obesity rate for low-income preschoolers dropped from 15.7 to 15.3 percent. Demeule-Hayes says many of the children in the study are on public assistance programs like WIC.

Within the past few years, WIC has also changed its plans to include healthier options.

“We’re making great strides. Baltimore City is really focused on this. And we’re making strides to make healthy foods more affordable. But there’s definitely still a long way to go,” Demeule-Hayes said.

While eating better is part of what’s helping kids stay healthy, experts say parents also need to make sure they stay active.

Mt. Washington Hospital offers Weight Smart programs for children 17 and under who need help getting their weight under control.

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