New York’s WIC program started very early — in the 1990s — in trying to promote exercise, healthy eating and breastfeeding. That’s probably one reason New York City’s obesity rate started dropping earlier, said the study’s lead author, Jackson Sekhobo of the New York State Department of Health.
It probably also helped that walking and mass transit is much more common in New York City than in car-centric places like Los Angeles, he added.
But another primary explanation is the breakdown of the kids in the two cities. In 2011, about 85 percent of the Los Angeles children in the study were Hispanic, and most were Mexican-American — a group with the highest reported childhood obesity rates, at least among boys.
In New York, 46 percent were Hispanic, with far fewer Mexican-Americans, Sekhobo noted.
Nationally, about 12 percent of preschool-age children are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 18 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are obese, and about the same proportion of adolescents are that fat.
About 36 percent of adults are obese, according to the agency’s figures.
After decades of alarming reports of Americans gaining weight, “we’re seeing perhaps the beginning of the end of the obesity epidemic,” CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a statement.
The CDC released the study Thursday.