By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Good news arose Thursday from the Philadelphia Health Department about the size of the city’s school children: They’re getting thinner.

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City officials now hope this means a leveling off in the obesity epidemic.

FILE PHOTO: Health Commissioner Don Schwarz (Credit: Mike Dunn)

Each year the school district weighs and measures about 120,000 students. The city used the data from 2006 through 2010 to calculate the students’ Body Mass Index, which is the key measure of obesity.

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Health Commissioner Don Schwarz says the city found a five-percent decrease in the number of obese students.

“It extended across all groups of kids, boys and girls, black, white, Latino, Asian. Philadelphia had the biggest declines of anywhere that’s reported and we particularly had declines among minority children

Schwarz cautions Philadelphia’s rate remains 20-percent higher than the national average, but he says steps the city has taken, such as eliminating sugary drinks from school vending machines, are showing signs of success.

He says even more efforts are underway.

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