CT Playing Catch-up to Other States in Reducing Childhood Obesity

Although Connecticut has fared comparatively well to other states in adult obesity rates, the state does “not do as well for children, especially low-income children,” according to two new national reports, the Child Health and Development Institute (CHDI) of Connecticut indicates in the organization’s latest issue brief. “Preventing children from being overweight or obese requires action in the earliest years since experts agree that reversing these trends later in life can be very difficult,” CHDI points out. “It is currently estimated that one in four children are overweight or obese by the time they enter kindergarten.

The reports highlight how Connecticut is doing relative to other states on early childhood obesity prevention. Data for low-income children was drawn from families participating in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

The Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State of Obesity in America report shows that Connecticut ranks:

  • 12th out of 50 states for highest WIC obesity rates (low-income children ages 2-4 years old)
  • 27th out of 37 states for highest adolescent obesity rates (students grades 9-12) Mississippi high schoolers have the highest obesity rate in US: 18.9%. Montana the lowest: 10.3% Connecticut is 12.3%
  • 42nd out of 50 states for highest adult obesity rates (18 and older)

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Early Care and Education State Indicator Report, tracks state policies aimed at preventing obesity in child care settings and shows that Connecticut is missing opportunities to address healthy nutrition in early childhood and education settings (ECE).

The 2016 report examines 15 data indicators including, assessing each state’s licensing regulations for high impact obesity prevention standards. Connecticut only had 2 out of 47 obesity prevention standards in State licensing regulations for early care and education programs and lacked ECE professional development training on obesity prevention that 42 other states offer.

CHDI explains that since 2014, Connecticut state agencies have started to address early childhood nutrition through licensing and training. The State is currently in the process of reviewing Early Childhood Education (ECE) licensing regulations, and has developed general training for some early childhood providers on nutrition and fitness.

Additionally, the Department of Public Health offers training to ECE providers via funding through the Centers for Disease Control and is working with the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE), Office of Early Childhood (OEC), and the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity to enhance professional development training focused on obesity prevention.

“Despite this progress,” the CHDI stresses, “more needs to be done to catch up with other states and reduce obesity rates among young children.” CHDI adds that “Connecticut must look at best practice standards related to early childhood obesity prevention and do better for our children to ensure that they grow at a healthy weight.”

Connecticut now has the 10th lowest adult obesity rate in the nation, according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America released September 2016. Connecticut's adult obesity rate is currently 25.3 percent, up from 16.0 percent in 2000 and from 10.4 percent in 1990.