Newswise — In the news, we often hear about the prevalence of childhood obesity in our nation. That is, the number of children who meet the criteria for obesity across a given population. However, we now have a new study that highlights incidence, or the number of new cases of obesity within a population over a given period of time.

When researchers at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health followed 7,738 kids over the course of nine years they found that kindergarteners who were overweight had four times the risk of becoming obese by the age of 14 years as normal-weight kindergartners. More than 45 percent of the obesity cases that developed by eighth grade started with those overweight kindergarteners.

“Now that we know childhood obesity at an early age sets the stage for obesity across the lifespan, we need to ensure even the youngest of our children are eating healthy foods and getting sufficient time to be active. We can’t afford to wait until they are older,” comments Dr. Solveig Cunningham, author of the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

New research in the area of childhood obesity provides public health organizations better insights into how to reverse the epidemic we currently face. From school boards to policy makers, this data should help our nation invest in prevention at an even earlier age.

Last year, several states reported the first ever declines in childhood obesity. Learning from their efforts, other communities are tackling obesity with more proven strategies.

Voices for Healthy Kids, a collaborative initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association, provides communities across the country with needed tools and strategies to help all young people eat health healthier foods and be more active.

Nearly one in three kids and teens are overweight or obese. We seek to reverse the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic by 2015.

Learn more about the epidemic and how you can help turn it around at

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New England Journal of Medicine