New York City is the biggest loser -- and Mayor Michael Bloomberg is delighted.
Obesity rates among New York City public elementary and middle-school students have decreased during the past five years across all race and ethnic groups, marking the biggest decline in childhood obesity reported to date by any large city in the nation, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control.
"After decades of increases in childhood obesity, we are very much encouraged to see obesity rates going down," said Thomas Farley, commissioner of the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. "Fewer New York City children are reaching dangerous weight levels that would put them at much greater risk for lifelong health problems such as diabetes and heart disease."
According to the report, the prevalence of obesity in grades K-8 decreased 5.5 percent, from 21.9 percent in 2006-07 to 20.7 percent in 2010-11.
Obesity decreased significantly among children in all age groups and in all socioeconomic and racial or ethnic populations, the report said. But the decrease was smaller among black and Hispanic children than among Asian/Pacific Islander and white children.
Officials said the sharpest decline was among children ages five to six years old, with a nearly 10 percent drop. While officials touted the progress, the health commissioner stressed that the problem remains severe.
One in five children in grades K-8 is obese, and minority children and those living in poor neighborhoods still show higher obesity rates.
The new city standards for vending machines, which the mayor unveiled Thursday afternoon, will apply to all city facilities, not just schools. Under the new rules, only snacks with fewer than 200 calories and less than seven grams of fat will be offered.