Childhood obesity declined in 19 states and territories among  low-income preschoolers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday.

The study included over 11 million children, ages 2 to 4 ,whose families are receiving supplemental nutrition assistance through governmental program Women, Infants and Children.

The CDC collected data from 40 states and territories and of these, 19 showed small declines, three showed slight increases and there was no change among the others. 

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, called the change a “a tipping point” in addressing the problem, but added that there is still a long way to go.

Dr. Eduardo Sanchez of the American Heart Association echoed that sentiment, adding,  “We can make a difference. This new report reaffirms that progress is being made to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. There is cause to celebrate, but more work is ahead of us. We must continue the momentum in communities making progress and redouble our efforts in communities that are seeing increases or are stagnant.  While one in eight preschoolers is obese, rates are higher in black and Hispanic children ages 2 to 5.”

Obese children as young as age 3 show indicators for developing heart disease later in life. There are many efforts underway  to reverse the obesity epidemic and there have been some signs of success. Other states and communities have shown declines in childhood obesity, but this is the first and largest study looking at low-income, preschool age children using the same metrics and definitions.

Voices for Healthy Kids is working to reverse the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic by 2015 by ensuring children have access to healthy foods and beverages, as well as safe opportunities for physical activity.

 Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.