Skip to main content

Let’s Go!’s Response to Latest National Childhood Obesity Data

March 09, 2018

LetsGo Declining Obesity Rates
While new national data show childhood obesity on the rise, Maine’s numbers offer a more promising story. Childhood obesity rates are starting to decline for some groups in Maine.

A study published in the March 2018 issue of Pediatrics shows that the obesity rate for children aged 2-19 has increased from 14.6 percent in 1999 to 18.5 percent in 2016. That means that nationwide, almost 1 in 5 children have obesity. As the study’s authors point out, ongoing efforts to curb obesity “must continue, as must innovation, research, and most importantly at this juncture, collaboration among clinicians, public health leaders, hospitals, and all levels of government.”

Here in Maine, where Let’s Go!, The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, and other community organizations have led such a comprehensive approach to fighting childhood obesity, there are signs of success. In the decade-plus that Let’s Go! has been monitoring childhood obesity rates in Greater Portland, those rates have stabilized. Recent data also show a downward trend specifically among girls aged 3-18, from 13 percent in 2013 to 9.7 percent in 2016.

Data reported from the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey told a similar story. A significant decrease was seen in the percent of third graders who have obesity, reported at 12.3 percent in 2017, down from 20.8 percent in 2015. In addition, the data appear to show a slight downward trend in obesity for fifth graders, from 22.6 percent in 2015 to 19.1 percent in 2017 (All rates cited are based on measured heights and weights).

While there is no single or simple solution to reverse the course of obesity’s rise, evidence points to changing policies and creating environments that support healthy choices as instrumental in the stabilization and reduction of obesity prevalence. The study in Pediatrics recommends the same kind of collaborative, coordinated strategy that Let’s Go! has employed since 2006, both with its earliest partners and most recently with its state collaborator, the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention. Let’s Go! remains dedicated to increasing opportunities for healthy eating and active living through sustainable environmental and policy change. We are setting a positive example for the nation as a whole that is showing promising results.

News from Around MaineHealth

View All
MaineHealth Welcomes New Vice President of Academic Affairs
Kneka Smith, EdD, MPH brings over two decades of academic affairs and health care education leadership experience to this new role.
Maine Medical Center Welcomes First Baby of 2021
Sarah and George Reiche’s baby girl, Winnie, was born at 1:58 a.m.
MaineHealth Administers First Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine to Front-line Caregivers
Hours after the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine at its hospitals, MaineHealth began inoculating team members who provide direct care to patients infected with the novel coronavirus.
MaineHealth Hospitals Earn a Fall 2020 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade of ‘A’
All five MaineHealth hospitals eligible for a grade from Leapfrog received the highest safety score offered.
MaineHealth Establishes Plan for Inoculating Front-line Care Givers Following State Plan for Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines
The health system expects to be able to vaccinate all its front-line care team members following the delivery of a second allotment that is expected to include both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Physicians Join Maine Medical Partners
Maine Medical Partners announces the following new hires.
Maine Medical Center Further Reduces Visitation to Manage COVID-19 Surge
The new policy is effective Friday, Dec. 4 and reduces visitors in patient care units and waiting areas.
Mount Washington Valley Recognized for Increasing Healthy Choices
Schools, child care programs, out-of-school programs and health care practices are working together to decrease childhood obesity, one healthy choice at a time.
MaineHealth Local Hospital Systems Recognized for Tobacco-Free Achievements
Twelve hospitals and affiliates celebrated for leadership through annual Gold Star Standards of Excellence program.

Maine Medical Center puts new visitation restrictions in place in response to COVID-19 surge
The new policy, part of MMC’s continued safety efforts, is effective Wednesday, Nov. 18.