To the Editor:
It’s good news that child obesity is falling in some cities (front page, Dec. 11), but three trends jeopardize this modest progress.
First, higher rates of income inequality and child poverty consistently predict more child obesity, and both are rising. Second, the austerity fever gripping Washington and state capitals could lead to cuts in the programs that have contributed to the decline. The National Association of City and County Health Officials reports that 57 percent of local health departments cut funds in 2011, the highest rate in four years.
Finally, the soda, fast food and snack industries have successfully thwarted more effective regulation of marketing to children the high-fat, sugar and salt products most associated with increases in child obesity. If the country is serious about sustaining reductions in child obesity, it will have to reverse these trends.
New York, Dec. 12, 2012
The writer is a professor of public health at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College.Note from KBJ: Do these kids have parents?