"Policies are great, but we can't wait for them," said Keith Ayoob, director of the Rose R. Kennedy Center Nutrition Clinic at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. If you look at people who lose weight, they tend to eat a fairly low-fat diet. They eat breakfast every day, and most of them have committed to doing a little bit of exercise."
One glum prediction that wasn't captured in the study is the fate of the 17 percent of U.S. teens who are obese.
"We've not yet been able to observe the full impact of childhood obesity," said Wang, pointing out that type 2 diabetes, once called adult onset diabetes, is now showing up in teens. "Intervening at an early age and in the early stage of the weight gain trajectory is going to be so important."
Ayoob blames inactivity for the rise in childhood obesity.
"When I was a kid, kids drank whole milk and ate junk food whenever they could get it. But we moved," he said, describing the eagerness to get outside and play. "Nowadays kids don't do that. They only leave the house to get to someone else's house to play video games."