Finally, something positive to say on the obesity front: According to new studies, obesity rates are leveling off — dropping, even. Hey, we must have done something right.

Both New York City and Philadelphia saw their obesity rates decrease last year, since declaring war on the epidemic more than a decade ago. And studies recently compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed similar progress elsewhere in the country:

A drop in Mississippi, three years after passage of a law that required public schools to provide more physical activity and health education. A reduction in eastern Massachusetts, and for kids in a region of Nebraska. A leveling off for New Mexico’s kindergarten and third graders, after years of increase.

Certainly, there are problem areas: Disparities between obesity trends in black and white students, and worse results for poor students insured through Medicaid. Common sense solutions such as eliminating soda and fried foods in schools and educating kids about exercise, however, seem to be paying off.

New Jerseyans are not as obese as the rest of the country, although that’s not saying much. About 61 percent of adults in this state are considered overweight and 24 percent obese.

With the American Medical Association’s vote last month to classify obesity as a disease, however, we hope more pressure will be put on insurance companies to cover procedures and medications associated with it.

With billions more on the line, the stakes for selling healthy eating just got higher.

— The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J., July 15

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