05/12/2016 11:52 EDT | Updated 05/12/2016 11:59 EDT

Canada's Childhood Obesity Rates Finally Drop

This is the first time rates have fallen in the past few decades.

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The size of stomach of fat boy with overweight.

Childhood obesity has been a Canadian epidemic for the past few decades. Now new research has revealed that the country’s obesity rates are finally on the decline.

According to a University of Manitoba study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, childhood obesity decreased from 30.7 to 27 per cent between 2004 and 2013. This is a positive change considering obesity rates jumped dramatically between 1978 and 2004, from 23.3 to 34.7 per cent.

“Children are leaner… especially compared to other countries, Canadian children are plateauing in their obesity rates,” said Dr. Celia Rodd, a pediatric endocrinologist who helped conduct the study. In her findings, Rodd discovered that obesity rates of Canadian kids plateaued at 13 per cent.

Dr. Atul Sharma, of the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, attributes the decline in obesity to the introduction of body mass index (BMI) growth charts in 2000. These charts helped open up the conversation between health-care providers and parents about their children’s weight.

“Doctors could sit down with parents and say ‘your child is above normal range’ and it allowed a conversation on how to make changes happen,” Sharma told Global News.

According to BMI growth charts from the World Health Organization (WHO), children who are in the 85th percentile – meaning those heavier than 85 per cent of kids of the same age and sex – are considered overweight. Those in the 97th percentile are considered obese.

Now that Canada’s obesity rates are finally dropping, researcher Dr. Rodd says, “These changes have happened in just over a decade and that’s why it was so encouraging that we’ve been able to make such important changes. We need to keep doing what we’re doing and not be complacent, either.”

Currently, Canada is doing better than the U.S. when it comes to childhood obesity. In the States, obesity rates have more than doubled in the past 30 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Childhood obesity is a serious health concern and can lead to complications such as Type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleeping disorders, low self-esteem and depression.

To learn how to fight childhood obesity, watch this video here.


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