The Unacceptable Child Obesity Statistics

Childhood obesity statistics in the United States have caught the attention of every aspect of our nation recently.

Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to recognize but most difficult to treat.

Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year. The annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion. Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults unless they adopt and maintain healthier patterns of eating and exercise. Over the past three decades, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2-5 years and adolescents aged 12-19 years, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6-11 years. At present, approximately nine million children over 6 years of age are considered obese.
Trends in childhood and youth obesity mirror a similar profound increase over the same approximate period in U.S. adults as well as a concurrent rise internationally, in both developed and developing countries. 

The obesity epidemic affects both boys and girls and has occurred in all age, race, and ethnic groups throughout the United States. In addition to the increase in obesity prevalence, the heaviest group of children is getting heavier whereas the leanest group of children is staying lean. What this means is that among younger age groups of children 6 to 11 years of age, and to a lesser extent adolescents, the lower part of the BMI distribution appears to have changed little over time.
Current Statistics
Overweight and obesity in children are significant public health problems in the United States. The number of adolescents who are overweight has tripled since 1980 and the prevalence among younger children has more than doubled. According to a NHANES survey, 16 percent of children age 6-19 years are overweight. Not only have the rates of overweight increased, but also the heaviest children in a recent NHANES survey were markedly heavier than those in previous surveys.

During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in childhood obesity statistics and general obesity in the United States. In 2008, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty-two states had prevalence equal to or greater than 25%; six of these states (Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia ) had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30%.
Overweight children and adolescents are at risk for health problems during their youth and as adults. For example, during their youth, overweight children and adolescents are more likely to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes) than are other children and adolescents. 
Overweight children and adolescents are more likely to become obese as adults, according to certain childhood obesity statistics and studies. For example, one study found that approximately 80% of children who were overweight at age 10-15 were obese adults at age 25. 
Another study found that 25% of obese adults were overweight as children. The latter study also found that if overweight begins before age 8, obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe. The March 2004 Journal of the American Medical Association reported that poor diet and physical inactivity soon could overtake tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

Worldwide Statistics 
When it comes to childhood obesity statistics worldwide, Finland may be more obese than France or Poland, the statistics are not clear. Statistics are only generally available and sensible for developed countries. After these countries come, in turn: Iceland, Spain, Estonia, Austria, Ireland, Latvia, Czech, Canada, Lithuania, Australia, Luxembourg and Hungary. With a percentage of obesity of over 20% follow Portugal, Slovakia, Germany, UK, Mexico, Cyprus and Malta, with the USA breaking into the 30s! (Did you catch that? There’s an extra emphasis that the US is in the 30% prevalence of obesity!) There are no statistics given for Australia (known to be surprisingly obese), and many other countries especially non European ones. Data is taken from the latest reports, 2000, 2001 or 2002.
Childhood obesity statistics worldwide are very alarming. Giving to the rise in "instant" technology, we can see, for the first time, how obesity is growing around the globe. The sedentary lifestyles of children in all developed countries are helping to raise the childhood obesity statistics to these alarming numbers. It’s time to take action and get our children off their butts and into the active lives they need. Only then will these childhood obesity statistics go down back below where they were three decades ago.

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