About 12.5% of preschoolers in the U.S. are considered obese, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says those kids are more likely to be overweight when they grow up, too.
In many states, the figures are showing improvement.
So there's concern that the percentage of obese children in South Carolina, ages 2-to-4 in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children – the so-called WIC program -- has risen or worsened to 15.6%.
University of South Carolina public health researcher Dr. Russ Pate says he favors a controversial proposal to restrict what can be bought through government nutritional programs to healthier foods.
But he also says parents play a key role in keeping their children from becoming obese.
“You are the most influential person in your child's life when it comes to this and many other issues,” Pate says.
“And even if the school and the community and the neighborhood are not ideal from the standpoint of activity or diet, you're in charge of your child's activity and diet and you can be successful in helping your child develop a healthy weight.”
Speaking yesterday on WVOC's “Afternoon Rush” program, Pate re-emphasized the importance of exercise and physical activity in preventing or reducing obesity at all ages.