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Childhood Obesity Statistics

Updated on October 8, 2010

Child Obesity In America

Child obesity in America is growing at an alarming rate. It's an epidemic that affects every age, race and gender. According to statistics, obesity is the leading cause of diabetes and heart disease. Obese Children that are genetically predisposed to being over weight have a greater chance of developing these diseases. Ethnic differences play a part in nutrition and diet as well.

During the childhood years it's important to develop healthy eating habits to avoid these aliments. The government is attempting to work along side schools, and parents, to implement programs and materials to promote healthy eating. This article will focus on the factors, causes, and solutions to obesity during the childhood years

What Is Obesity?

Obesity is defined as having a BMI in the 95th percentile of the growth charts as complied ( according to age and sex ) by the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control" (Berger 284). Adult obesity is measured differently, and would be calculated as having a BMI of 30 or above. Children become obese because of poor eating habits and not enough exercise. In order for a child to not fall into the obesity category, they must consume more nutritional foods and become more active.

Obesity is completely reversible but, the outlook on the futures is not promising. More children are still becoming overweight. " The prevalence of overweight among 6 to 11 year olds increased by 8 percentage points between 1988 and 1994, and between 1999 and 2004" ( Berger 285). With these statistics, the government is attempting to intervene on behalf of America's children.

Obesity , Genes, and Ethnic Attitudes

Genes also plays a role in obesity, effecting activity, food preferences, body type and metabolic rate. ( Berger 285) . The FTO gene is inherited from parents but, environmental factors also pose a problem too. Children that live with family members who have poor eating habits are at a greater risk for becoming overweight. What ever foods the household consumes, is what the child is typically expected to eat. Nutritional campaigns are being seen in America to promote healthy eating for families as a whole. This type of education will inform parents and caregivers to assist children with healthy diets.

Ethnic attitudes towards weight also plays a role in diet and activity. "In one study of obese African American children, only 30 percent of parents acknowledged that their children were overweight.
(Yuung-Hymanet et al.,2003)(Berger 285).

Childhood Obesity In The News

Obesity And The American Government

Jacob Sullman, discussed the problem in "The American Psycholoist" by posing the question, should the government intervene in the obesity epidemic? He suggested that Americans feel a moral responsibility to protect children from becoming overweight and developing life threatening diseases. In order to protect children from this epidemic, the government is attempting to mandate certain guidelines on food being sold and distributed in schools and vending machines. He also touches on how food is marketed. Americans who are looking to save money tend to go with foods that are cheaper to buy. Unfortunately, healthy foods are not always of value as far as price is concerned. Lower income families suffer because of this, and are the most overweight group in America.

Inactivity increases the chances for a childhood obesity. This can be resolved by limiting TV and videos game usage. Once the activity level increases children can burn additional calories. This will keep children within the normal weight range.

Since this is being called an epidemic, government has taken note to prevent our taxpayers from having to carry the burden. The more people that become overweight, the more medical care is required. Taxes, subsidies, censorship and regulations, are all being used to in order to scale back on the number of Americans stricken with illnesses due to being overweight. Sullen, suggests that it may not be the government's business who's overweight or not but, considering the debt obesity will incur, it may be necessary.

Obesity In School

During the preschool years nutrition is important in preventing adolescent obesity. Children that learn healthy eating habits during this stage tend to have a greater chance of making it a way of life.

Teaching young children proper nutrition will help them to make healthy food choices, as they mature. Because children in this age range can be picky eaters, parents sometimes have difficulty getting their children to eat vegetables and fruits. In the United States, there's a larger selection of unhealthy food choices. Parents and caregivers are urged to work with pediatricians and nutritionist in order to seek advice about picky eaters.(Berger 209-210).

Obesity Prevention

Examining all of the factors, and causes behind the childhood obesity epidemic, it's definitely a problem that can be resolved. The solution is making better choices when it comes to diet and activity. Government is assisting low income families by providing subsidy through
school lunches and WIC. In order to prevent childhood obesity in lower income families, parents must take advantage of these services.

The new regulations for fast food restaurants, and other establishments, are being enforced to give consumers a choice when it comes to calorie consumption. Parents who are educated will make better choices for the entire family. Children will benefit from this by learning how to eat. The result is a healthier future of American children.


Sullum, Jacob. "The War on Fat." Reason 36.4 (2004): 20-31. OmniFile Full Text Select. Web. 20 June 2010

Who's Responsible For Child Obesity?

Who's At Fault, The Government Or Parents?

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    • Scribe For Hire profile image

      Scribe For Hire 7 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks for sharing!

      It's unfortunate that adult diseases like Type II diabetes are now showing up in children. Diet and exercise are two main components that are so very important to children for optimal health and development.

      Some kids have never had a home-cooked meal -- time to get back to basics.