259364 A tale of two cities: Trends in childhood obesity prevalence in Los Angeles and New York

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jackson Sekhobo, PhD, MPA , Division of Nutrition, Bureau of Administration and Evaluation, Evaluation and Analysis Unit, New York Department of Health, Albany, NY
Shannon E. Whaley, PhD , Division of Research and Evaluation, PHFE WIC, Irwindale, CA
Lynn Edmunds, DrPH, MS, RD , Division of Nutrition; Evaluation, Research, and Surveillance Unit, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY
Maria Koleilat, DrPH, MPH , Division of Research and Evaluation, PHFE-WIC Program, Irwindale, CA
Lu Jiang, PhD , Division of Research and Evaluation, PHFE WIC, Irwindale, CA
Objectives. The WIC Program serves over 50% of all infants and 25% of all children under age 5 in the US, and WIC staff measure child height and weight every six months from birth to age 5. Use of existing WIC data systems to compare regional trends in childhood obesity prevalence therefore provides the potential for the surveillance of early childhood obesity among low-income children nationwide. The objective of this study was to conduct a comparative analysis of recent obesity prevalence trends among children enrolled in WIC in Los Angeles County (LAC) and New York City (NYC) in order to begin to explore effective and promising policies and environmental approaches for the prevention and control of early childhood obesity. Methods. We defined obesity as sex-specific BMI-for-age >=95th percentile, and compared prevalence estimates for 3- and 4-year-old children who were enrolled in WIC in LAC and NYC between 2003-2011. Results. In 2003, obesity prevalence among 3- and 4-year old children enrolled in WIC in NYC (18.5% and 19.3%, respectively) was higher than in LAC (16.3% and 17.2%). In 2004, age-specific prevalence estimates in NYC began a 6-year downward trend and corresponding estimates in LAC began a six-year upward trend, with an apparent peak in 2009 and a declining trend in 2010 and 2011. Conclusions. Given the broad reach of the WIC program and high quality of height/weight measurements, these results suggest that WIC data can be an important tool in tracking childhood obesity prior to school age.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the use of WIC data as a surveillance tool for tracking early childhood overweight. Utilize surveillance data from the WIC Program to highlight impacts of obesity interventions on early childhood overweight.

Keywords: Data/Surveillance, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I worked with my coauthors on the development of the idea and the analysis and writing of this abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.