Dr. Janet Collins

Video: Dr. Janet Collins is the director of the Centers for Disease Control’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. "When we look at the data, what is inspiring the health care costs, there's no question that obesity is a dire issue," she said at Washington Post Live's 2013 Childhood Obesity Summit. Collins highlights success across the country, in schools as well as in breast-feeding pushes and more playable and walkable infrastructure.

Nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese. But after decades of rising rates, we may be turning a corner on the health crisis. Experts across fields gathered at Washington Post Live’s 2013 Childhood Obesity Summit to discuss strategies resulting in healthier children.


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Dr. Janet Collins, Director, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC is undoubtedly much better known for our work in infectious-disease control. But when we look at the data about what is actually influencing the health of the nation, there’s no question that obesity is a substantial issue.

By identifying obesity as a winnable battle, CDC brings together leadership, resources, all of the strategies to really try to accelerate progress. The entire nation is doing the same. We’ve seen incredible progress, great results around the country.

In August, we were able to report that we’re seeing progress in some of our youngest and most vulnerable children. We looked at data from 43 states and territories on the obesity rates of low-income children ages 2 to 5. In 18 states and one territory, we’ve seen a significant decline. So for the first time, nearly half the states in the data set are showing a decline in childhood obesity among low-income preschoolers, a very significant finding.

Some other related successes: Over the past 10 years, we’ve moved from a third of babies being breast-fed at 6 months to a half of babies in the country. This is important because for every month of breast-feeding, there’s a reduction in the risk of childhood overweight. And we have documented a decline in the calories consumed in sugary beverages.

The challenges remain great, but the successes are extraordinarily encouraging.

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