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September 27, 2017

Study: Fewer Hartford preschoolers overweight, but rates exceed national prevalence

Thirty-two percent of preschool-age children in Hartford were overweight or obese in 2016, down from 37 percent among 3- to 5-year-olds in 2012, according to results of a study released today that called for additional work to keep lowering the numbers.

Even with the decrease, the rate of overweight and obese preschoolers in the city is more than twice the expected national norms with Latino children the most severely affected, according to the report from Dr. Ann Ferris of UConn Health, who has spent years studying childhood obesity and is founding director of UConn’s Center for Public Health and Health Policy.

Average body mass also decreased by 4.1 percentage points, the study of 2,051 children from 40 early care programs in Hartford found.

“We know that weight is a leading indicator of long-term health, and that’s why it’s so important that our youngest children begin their lives with good eating and exercise habits,” Mayor Luke Bronin said. “Our childhood obesity rate is still too high, but we now have proven tools we can use to make progress.”

After the 2012 findings, the city’s Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation (DFCYR) launched initiatives with the early child care system to promote good nutrition and physical activity, and teamed with other city departments, nonprofits and schools for additional efforts, the report said. To further reduce obesity in preschool children, the report issued 11 recommendations, including continuing to expand improvements in food, nutrition and physical activity in care centers and schools and instituting more programs targeting infants, toddlers and their parents to prevent obesity earlier.

The report and associated programs were funded by grants, with additional resources from community partners mentioned in the report.

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