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Obesity Rates Among Preschoolers Declining, Study Suggests

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Have parents and pediatricians gotten the message about the dangers of obesity in young kids?  A new study out Tuesday suggests that the obesity rates of kids ages 2 to 4 may be declining for the first time in 12 years.

According to data from the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System, there's been a steady increase in obesity since doctors began monitoring kids nationwide in 1998.  But in 2010, rates among kids in low-income families were down, with 30,000 fewer kids registering obese than the year before.

"This was actually the first national study that showed a slight decrease in the rate of obesity in preschool age children living in low-income families," ABC Medical Contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton says.

While that's a step in the right direction, it's just the tip of the iceberg, Ashton points out.

"[The] good news of this study is that it does appear that possibly the message is getting through that we really need to be aggressive about preventing and managing obesity, even in preschool age children.  The bad news here is that at a rate of 14.9 percent, that still leaves approximately eight million obese preschool age children in this country," Ashton says.

"Make no mistake, we need to do much much better in the future," adds Ashton, who notes that kids who are overweight are more likely to become obese as adults.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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