Severe obesity is down nearly 10% among New York City's kids, appearing to defy national trends, according to a new study published Thursday.
The study, which looked at public school students in kindergarten through eighth grades, found that severe obesity dropped 9.5% from the 2006-07 school year to 2010-11 school year. Obesity in general dropped about 5.5%, according to the study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.
But nearly 21% of the city's schoolchildren are considered obese, according to Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The city has implemented several healthier food initiatives and physical activity requirements over the past few years. And the results are pleasantly surprising, said Christine Johnson, assistant commissioner at the city's health department
"I think that's the result of all the work that New York City has been doing," Johnson said. "Public health efforts really rely on great data. For us, the most important thing is to have the data in hand and then we can set about [improving upon] it."
A child is considered to be severely obese if their Body Mass Index is at or above 120% of the 95th percentile, according to the Health Department.
Nationally, severe obesity among youngsters 2 to 19 years old has steadily risen, according to a study published recently in JAMA Pediatrics.
"Fitness and wellness are top priorities for the administration and is critical for students to come to school ready to learn, and thrive both inside the classroom and beyond," said Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña. "We will continue to encourage our students participate in physical activity and choose our nutritious meals in schools, and we are grateful for the recommendations of the Health Department."