NEW YORKA new study shows New York City is doing better than Los Angeles in the battle against childhood obesity, at least when it comes to low-income children.
From 2003 to 2011, obesity rates for poor children dropped in New York to around 16 percent. But they rose in Los Angeles and ended at about 20 percent.
The researchers focused on children ages 3 and 4 enrolled in a government program that provides food and other services to women and their young children called the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
The two major cities were selected for the study because they have the two largest populations of participants in the WIC program, and both cities have different environments and policies on obesity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study Thursday in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report journal.
The authors noted that the Los Angeles program has many more Mexican-American kids. Obesity is more common in Mexican-American boys than in white or black kids.
In 2011, the obesity prevalence among Hispanics in NYC was 19.1 percent, according to CDC, compared with 21.7 percent in Los Angeles County.
"More research is needed to examine the reasons behind increased obesity risk among Hispanic children," the authors wrote.
They note, however, that some research suggests that children in LA county are more exposed to fast food restaurants and convenience stories in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, which may shed light on some of the observed differences.
In New York City, several interventions have taken place earlier in LA, according to the authors, including age-appropriate campaigns that are part of the program to get children to eat more fruits, vegetables, and low/non-fat milk. New York State has had those programs since 2001, while LA country had some regions participating in 2004 but state-wide campaigns begun in 2009.
The CDC has more information on childhood obesity.