PHILADELPHIA — After decades of rising childhood obesity rates, several US cities are reporting their first declines.
The trend has emerged in such big cities as New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska, and Kearney, Neb. The state of Mississippi has also registered a drop, but only among white students.
“It’s been nothing but bad news for 30 years, so the fact that we have any good news is a big story,’’ said Dr. Thomas Farley, the health commissioner in New York City, which reported a 5.5 percent decline in the number of obese schoolchildren from 2007 to 2011.
The drops are small, 5 percent in Philadelphia and 3 percent in Los Angeles. But researchers say they are significant because they offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic may actually be reversing course.
Researchers say they are not sure what is behind the declines. They may be an early sign of a national shift that is visible only in cities that routinely measure the height and weight of schoolchildren.