Child Obesity: Prevalence

How Many Children/Adolescents Are Obese or Severely Overweight

Obesity in Children and Adolescents

Child obesity (meaning a BMI-for-age above the 95th percentile of the CDC growth charts for age and gender) is typically diagnosed in individual children when total body weight exceeds 25 percent fat in boys, or 32 percent fat in girls (Lohman, 1987). Statistics regarding the number of obese children are often merged into those for overweight.

Current Prevalence of Obesity and Overweight in Children

According to the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 1999–2002, an estimated 16 percent of children and adolescents ages 6–19 years are overweight. Of these. a growing proportion are obese. Approximately one in five children in the US between the ages of 6 and 17 are overweight. About 25 percent of all white children are overweight, while 33 percent of African

American and Hispanic children are overweight. Over 10 percent of younger preschool children between ages 2 and 5 are overweight, up from 7 percent in 1994.

Increase in Prevalence of Obesity and Overweight in Children

  • According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), the percentage of overweight children aged 6-11 years has almost doubled since the early 1980’s. The percentage of overweight adolescents has risen by nearly 300 percent.
  • From 1994 to 2001, overweight among pre-school children aged 2-5 years, increased by 42 percent.

Incidence of Weight-Related Disease in Children

According to surveys of overweight/obese children and teens:

  • 60 percent of overweight children already have one risk factor for heart disease
  • 85 percent of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are obese
  • 25 percent of overweight children are already showing early signs of type 2 diabetes
  • Approx 20 percent of newly diagnosed cases of childhood diabetes are type 2, associated with obesity. This figure is up from 4 percent in 1990.

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