Childhood Obesity - What The Research Tells Us
Obesity Rates Are Increasing
The rapid increase in overweight among children and adolescents has generated widespread concern. Between 1980 and 2004, the prevalence of overweight tripled
among children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 years. When those of both sexes between 2 and 19 years are considered, more than one-third (33.6%) are either at risk for overweight
or are overweight and 17.1% are overweight. In one study,
during the 2003-4 and 2004-5 school years, 38% of Arkansas students were found to be overweight or at risk for overweight.
Rates For Boys And Girls Are Different
Boys are becoming overweight at a greater
rate than girls. The rate of increase of overweight
in boys rose at a greater pace than that
for girls. For the years 2003-2004, 34.8% of
boys ages 2 to 19 were at risk for overweight or
were overweight, compared with 28.9% in
1999-2000. Among girls ages 2 to 19 during the
same time period, 32.4% were at risk for overweight
or were overweight, up from 27.4% in
the earlier survey.
Some Groups Of Children Are More Affected By Obesity Than Others
In the most recent
data, Mexican-American male children and
adolescents (22.0%) were significantly more
overweight than their non-Hispanic white
(17.8%) and non-Hispanic black (16.4%) male counterparts. Mexican-American
(16.2%) and non-Hispanic black (23.8%) female children and adolescents were
significantly more likely to be overweight than non-Hispanic white female children and
adolescents (14.8%). Adolescents were more likely to be overweight than children.
Where Did the Obesity Problem Come From?
- High-calorie foods have become available at school. Kids consume more soda and
other sugar-sweetened beverages, and less milk, both at school and away from it.
- Food, beverage, and snack products are heavily advertised to children.
- Dual-career or single-parent working families may have increased demand for food
away from home or for prepared foods.
- Energy expenditure has been reduced. Fewer students walk or bike to school.
- More time is spent in sedentary activities, such as viewing television, using
computers, and playing video games.
Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming
overweight or obese adults. This increases to 80% if one parent (or more) is
overweight or obese. Overweight or obese adults are at risk for a number of health
problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some
forms of cancer.
Reprinted with permission from the web site of the The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools