There have been a few signs recently that obesity might not develop into the spectacular public-health crisis it seemed destined to become. It might just remain a huge public-health crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this month that the obesity rate dropped among younger, poor children in 19 states and territories between 2008 and 2011. The rate remained the same in 19 other states and in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Only three states saw increases. (Not enough data were collected in 10 states.)
No place saw its rate decline by more than a percentage point, but the results are still striking. Public-health advocates have worried for years that the United States was entering an age of obesity, the American waistline inexorably expanding and along with it the prevalence of diabetes, heart conditions, joint trouble, even cancer. Now it seems the country may be reaching a plateau, even among at-risk children.