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US Preschoolers on Government Food Aid Grown Less Pudgy: Study

Obesity rates dropped steadily to about 14% in 2016

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US, Preschoolers, Government
A photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in a Federal building in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2019. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet). Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy, a U.S. study found. A photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in a Federal building in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2019. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet). VOA

Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy, a U.S. study found, offering fresh evidence that previous signs of declining obesity rates weren’t a fluke.

Obesity rates dropped steadily to about 14% in 2016 — the latest data available — from 16% in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

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

The results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

US, Preschoolers, Government
Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy. VOA

The improvement affected youngsters ages 2 through 4 who receive food vouchers and other services in the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. About 1 in 5 U.S. kids that age were enrolled in 2016.

An earlier report involving program participants the same age found at least small declines in obesity in 18 states between 2008 and 2011. That was the first decline after years of increases that later plateaued, and researchers weren’t sure if it was just a blip.

Improvements in food options in that program including adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains may have contributed to the back-to-back obesity declines, researchers said. Other data show obesity rates in 2016 were stable but similar, about 14 percent, for children aged 2 to 5 who were not enrolled in the program, Blanck noted.

While too many U.S. children are still too heavy, the findings should be celebrated, said Dr. William Dietz, a former CDC obesity expert. “The changes are meaningful and substantial.”

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Dietz said program changes that cut the amount of juice allowed and switched from high-fat to low-fat milk likely had the biggest impact. He estimated that amounted to an average of 9,000 fewer monthly calories per child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends low-fat milk for children. It also suggests kids should limit juice intake and choose fresh fruits instead.

Further reducing U.S. childhood obesity will require broader changes — such as encouraging families and day care centers to routinely serve fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and employers to extend parental leave to make breastfeeding easier for new mothers, said Maureen Black, a child development and nutrition specialist at the University of Maryland.

Studies have shown breastfed infants are less likely than others to become obese later on. (VOA)

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Government Seeks Reply From TikTok, Asks to Answer Queries or Face Ban

In April this year, the Madras High Court had passed an interim order banning TikTok citing inappropriate and pornographic content. The ban was subsequently lifted

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tik tok
TikTok is fast catching up: it has been downloaded more than 240 million times in India so far, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower. VOA

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) has sought response from controversial social media apps TikTok and Helo on a set of questions, ranging from whether the apps are considering storing data within India and what measures they were taking to prevent users below age 18 from getting exposed to potentially dangerous content.

The social media platforms have time till July 22 to reply to the questions or face ban in the country, according to sources.

The notice was sent to the operators of the apps on Wednesday after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) economic wing Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) sent a letter to the Prime Minister, alleging that these social media platforms were being used for anti-national activities.

The IT Ministry asked what data from users in India are being collected by these platforms.

It also sought clarifications on allegations that the Helo app had paid a huge sum for putting 11,000 morphed political ads on other social media platforms.

One particular focus of the questions were around the security of users below age 18. Specifically, it asked what was the rationale behind the minimum age limit (13) to use TikTok in India when “a person below 18 is considered as child in the country”.

TikTok
The logo of the TikTok application is seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken Feb. 21, 2019. VOA

TikTok introduced “age gate” to restrict children from using the app. The ministry asked whether this age gate mechanism restricts users below age 18.

In a statement shared with IANS, TikTok said it welcomes the “opportunity to fully collaborate with the government to meet and exceed our obligations”.

“India is one of our strongest markets and we are happy to be part of the mainframe of Digital India in 15 Indian languages,” TikTok said in a statement.

“In line with our commitment to India, we are investing $1 billion in India over the next three years, with a strategic focus on developing technology infrastructure, establishing local partnerships and supporting initiatives such as the Skill India Program which we are proud to be assisting with already,” said the short-video-sharing app owned by Chinese start-up ByteDance.

Also Read: Samsung Refreshes its Galaxy A Series in India

The operators of TikTok earlier this year agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allegations that the company illegally collected personal information from children.

In April this year, the Madras High Court had passed an interim order banning TikTok citing inappropriate and pornographic content. The ban was subsequently lifted. (IANS)