Childhood Obesity Statistics

How Common Is Childhood Obesity?

The childhood obesity statistics below are based on 2003 to 2004 data:
 
  • Children age 6 to 11 who are overweight: 18.8 percent
  • Children age 12 to 19 who are overweight: 17.4 percent.
     

Trends in Childhood Obesity

Obesity is on the rise in the United States. In fact, a lot of people are calling it an "obesity epidemic," given that over two-thirds of adults are either overweight or obese. Even more worrisome is the rapid increase in childhood obesity and teenage obesity, which in 40 years has increased by four times. Table 1 shows the percentages of overweight children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 years old for selected years from 1963 through 2004.
 
Table 1
 
Age (years)
NHANES
1963-65
1966-70
NHANES
1971-74
NHANES
1976-80
NHANES
1988-94
NHANES
1999-2000
NHANES
2001-02
NHANES
2003-04
6-11
4.2
4
6.5
11.3
15.1
16.3
18.8
12-19
4.6
6.1
5
10.5
14.8
16.7
17.4
 
The NHANES 2003 to 2004 overweight estimates suggest that since 1994, overweight in youths has not leveled off or decreased, and is increasing to even higher levels. The data for adolescents is of notable concern for two reasons:
 
  • The increasing number of health conditions being seen in children. Type 2 diabetes was once rare in American children; now, it accounts for 8 to 45 percent of newly diagnosed diabetes cases in children and adolescents. The number of children developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol is also increasing at alarming rates. Asthma, liver disease, and sleep apnea are also more common in overweight children.
 
  • The risk for adult obesity. Over 70 percent of overweight adolescents will become overweight or obese adults.
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