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Halting Childhood Obesity

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A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the precocious new class of healthy kids out there, and about how they could change the face of youth marketing. That may or may not have grabbed your attention (since, c’mon, there’s a lot of conjecture out there about healthful eating habits). And if it didn’t, well, listen up:

As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association and The New York Times, childhood obesity rates appear to be leveling off. The finding hints that the country could be entering a period when the numbers also start dropping. That’s great news, especially when you consider how rapidly this alarming trend grew: Between 1980 and 2002, the percentage of children considered “obese” increased from 6.5% to 16.3%

Scientists are careful not to herald the end of the epidemic, stating this could just be a temporary lull, unrelated to efforts by food companies and the healthcare sector. It’s also no cause for congratulations that nearly a third of American children are classified as overweight or obese.

It’s always good to take results like this with a grain of salt, of course. But I’ll go out on not too long of a limb here and say that the tide seems to be turning in favor of health and wellness for young shoppers. The food industry has been building momentum of late, with beverage and candy companies recently agreeing to halt marketing geared towards children 12 and under. Retailers and various other manufacturers have kept the ball rolling. Heck, even Disneyland is serving up sides of fruits and vegetables these days.

Retailers especially shouldn’t let themselves get complacent. These new results should spur them to continue healthful marketing and not let up anytime soon. Or ever.

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