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President Obama mistaken about obesity decline in State of the Union address

President Obama erred on the side of hopefulness in his 2014 State of the Union address when he stated that "Michelle's Let's Move! partnership with schools, businesses and local leaders has helped bring down childhood obesity rates for the first time in 30 years, and that's an achievement that will improve lives and reduce health care costs for decades to come.", according to new research conducted by University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An that was published in the Feb. 5, 2014, journal ISRN Obesity

Michelle Obama addresses schoolchildren at Orr Elementary School as part of a ''Let's Move! Active Schools'' event Sept. 5, 2013, in Washington.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

While it is factual that obesity rates among low-income preschool children have declined in 19 of 43 states the entire picture of the obesity problem in the United States is oversimplified by a conclusion that the epidemic is slowing or on the verge of turning around.

Dr. An based his conclusions on an evaluation of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data for 2000 and a comparison with that data to data for 2011 and 2012. The database is kept and maintained by the Centers for Diseease Control from which the Presdient also got his information.

Dr. An found that the rates of adult obesity have hardly declined at all in the last twelve years and the rates of morbid obesity have increased in adults during the same time frame.

"We can't be naive and underestimate the severity of the obesity epidemic in the U. S. Although there is some preliminary evidence about the decline of obesity prevalence among low income preschoolers, that population is unique; we haven't gotten good measures for the entire child or adolescent population," An said. "For the adult population, there are minor declines in the overweight and obesity rate if we compare data from 2012 to that in 2010, but the declines are very small and statistically insignificant. We cannot rule out the hypothesis that the prevalence of obesity follows the same trend as in the last decade."

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