Roundup: Obesity Rate Among Preschoolers; Measles Alert for Travelers; and More

Obesity Rate Declining Among Kids, Ages 2 to 4, Who Receive U.S. Food Aid, CDC Says

The overall childhood obesity rate in the United States has either leveled off or continues to increase, according to various reports. But a new study finds the obesity rate declining among preschoolers who receive government food aid.

Results of the study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found the obesity rate had dropped to about 14 percent in 2016 — the latest data available — from 16 percent in 2010, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.

The improved rate was among children, ages 2 through 4, who receive food vouchers and other services as part of the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program. About 1 in 5 U.S. kids that age were enrolled in 2016.

“It gives us more hope that this is a real change,” said Heidi Blanck, who heads obesity prevention at the CDC.

Healthier food options in that aid program — including the addition of more fruits, vegetables and whole grains — may have helped fuel the decline in the obesity rate, researchers said. Other reports find that obesity rates in 2016 were stable, but also at about 14 percent for children aged 2 to 5 who were not enrolled in the aid program, Ms. Blanck said.

The study’s authors concluded: “Reasons for the declines in obesity among young children in WIC remain undetermined but may include WIC food package revisions and local, state, and national initiatives.”

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U.S. Travelers to Europe Urged to Protect Themselves Against Measles

Researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning travelers to get their measles, mumps and rubella MMR vaccines after unusually a numberof measles fatalities in have occurred in Europe.

The measles outbreak in Europe has been concerning. From January 2018 to June 2018, European countries saw 37 deaths, a record high since the 1990s, among 41,000 reported cases. Europe’s spike in cases has contributed to the surge in the U.S., where cases have reached 1,044, the most since 1992.

“Measles is highly contagious, and the record number of measles cases in the … European region not only puts unvaccinated and inadequately vaccinated travelers at risk, but also increases the risk for nontraveling U.S. residents who come into close contact with returned travelers who are ill,” CDC researchers wrote in a new article.

Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. However, travelers can contract the extremely contagious disease while abroad, and infect multiple people when they return home.

Those who are not protected from measles can contract the disease “during plane flights or other transport, or during a layover at a location with other international travelers,” CDC researchers write.

If children are traveling abroad, infants ages 6 months through 11 months should have one dose of MMR, which would not count toward the two routine doses, says the CDC. Children 12 months and older should receive two doses at least 28 days apart, along with teens and adults with no evidence of immunity, the CDC said.

International travelers should carry a copy of their immunization records and seek immediate medical help if they experience symptoms of measles, which include fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes followed by a rash.

The CDC states that: “Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Also, measles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed.”

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FDA Approves Treatment for Pediatric Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an injectable medication as treatment for pediatric patients 10 years or older with type 2 diabetes. It is the first non-insulin drug approved to treat type 2 diabetes in pediatric patients since metformin in 2000, the FDA states.

The approved treatment, Victoza (liraglutide), slows digestion, prevents the liver from making too much glucose (a simple sugar), and helps the pancreas produce more insulin when needed.

Although type 2 diabetes primarily occurs in patients over the age of 45, the prevalence rate among younger patients has been rising dramatically over the past couple of decades.

“The FDA encourages drugs to be made available to the widest number of patients possible when there is evidence of safety and efficacy,” said Lisa Yanoff, M.D, acting director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Victoza has now been shown to improve blood sugar control in pediatric patients with type 2 diabetes. The expanded indication provides an additional treatment option at a time when an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with this disease.”

The rate of childhood obesity — a major factor in the rising cases of type 2 diabetes in kids — is still growing in the U.S., according to a study published last year in the journal Pediatrics by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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