Not too long ago, nonprofit group Mission Readiness issued the depressing declaration that our youth are too fat to go to war. But for the first time in a while, the tides could be turning. The New York Times reports that obesity rates have gone down around the country in cities big (New York City, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia) and small (Anchorage and Kearny).

Experts are calling it a small, albeit noteworthy, dip (3-5%), but no one knows the exact reasons behind this decline. In fact, the findings were a surprise for many experts. The figures are based on a few measures, including a September report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Before we celebrate, nutritionists and school officials warn that it’s too early to ease up on children’s nutritional health initiatives. Socioeconomic factors like household income and race play a role in incidence of obesity, and some commentators point out that the current stats mostly reflect changes “concentrated among higher income, mostly white populations.”

Additionally, some officials, like Mississippi’s state health officer Mary Currier, are waiting for further results before they’re willing to say that this trend is anything more than an anomaly.

[via The New York Times]